Because where a child starts in life should not determine where they finish!
Our Orphanage Partners
Steps of Love serves children who live in orphanages located in Mexican towns bordering the United States. We currently serve the towns of Sonoyta and Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) in Sonora. These towns are well known immigrant crossing-points to the U.S. Many migrants use the towns to prepare for their journey through the Sonoran Desert.
Immigrant crossing points often face several common social problems. Families are frequently not rooted in the communities. Several individuals hold temporary employment or no employment, as they reside in the town only while waiting for the opportunity to cross the border. These individuals are easy targets of drug, alcohol, and prostitution and very frequently face prison charges. Their children are unfortunately the most impacted victims. When local Mexican authorities remove children from the abuse and neglect they receive at home, children find refuge at either Casa Hogar Pasos de Amor in Sonoyta or Amores de Peñasco in Puerto Peñasco.
Pasos de amor
"Casa Hogar Pasos de Amor" is a small orphanage located in the city of Sonoyta, in the state of Sonora, Mexico, right across the US border with Lukeville, Arizona. The orphanage hosts an average of 9 to 15 children, ranging from zero to 12 years of age. Although the goal is for children to use this orphanage as a temporary shelter - while their family life is restored or a relative or foster parent is available to care form them - reality is that some of the children have remained at the orphanage for over 7 years, making of this house their home.
This orphanage, which is privately funded, operates in a very rudimentary and unsafe house. For than reason, one of Steps of Love's main services to them is Shelter: the provision of the needed repairs and improvements to the house so that the quality of life and the safety of the children are improved.
In Mexico, Casa Hogar Pasos de Amor is operated by the Mexican nonprofit organization Familias con Proposito en Mexico, A.C., founded by Maria Luisa Castillo Salas and her husband Esteban Leon in 2008. Steps of Love Orphanages partners with Familias con Propositos in Mexico. Although Maria Luisa and Esteban have operated this orphanage simulating a home environment for the children (the children call Maria Luisa "mama"), one of their main challenges is to sustain the private funding to cover for the salaries of their staff. Their staff frequently resigns or gives up as soon as they realize the difficulty of their job, and face the low and inconsistent pay. For that reason, Steps of Love supports Pasos de Amor through the program called Home Environment which aims to recruit, train, support and provide financial assistance to the staff.
Amores de Peñasco
Located in the city of Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), the orphanage also known as Amores is the home of approximately 30 to 45 children, ages from zero to 12 years old. Different from Pasos de Amor, children who arrive at Amores are most frequently transitory and their stay at this orphanage is of an average of 6 months. Most children are placed at homes with relatives or friends; in rare occasions, they are returned to their parents after some intervention from the local authorities. It is, however, not uncommon for children to return to the care of Amores.
This orphanage was founded and financed by the city of Puerto Peñasco. Today, it continues to operate under the umbrella of DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia), a governmental association designed to care for families in Mexico and the Mexican nonprofit Asistencia Integral Para Menores de Puerto Peñasco, A.C., founded by Steps of Love board member Kathleen Duncan. The house where this orphanage operates is in very good shape and the facilities impress most of its visitors (including a playground area exclusive for the children at the orphanage).
One of the disadvantages of belonging to a governmental institution is the fact that this orphanage operates in a very "institutionalized" manner. Children lack individual one-on-one attention and crave for love and affection. For this reason, Steps of Love promotes the program Home Environment which aims to train and support the personnel at this orphanage so that they obtain the knowledge and develop the skills required to make their children feel "at home."