Home, A Place To Go Back To

A few weeks ago, Love & Hope Children’s Home was visited for the first time by a group of students from the University of Akron (UA). We had a great time getting to know and interacting with this great group of young people. Matt, a Spanish professor at The University of Akron, led the team, which consisted of students who had all taken a Spanish class designed for those entering a medical profession. Matt, Amrita, Isabella, Travis, Lisa and Miranda really engaged our children in conversation, activities and games. They even taught us about music and good hygiene! We asked the group to write a short summary of their trip to El Salvador, where they not only spent time at Love & Hope, but also in the community and a local hospital.


“As soon as we arrived in El Salvador, the staff and children at Love and Hope immediately made us feel like a part of their family. Helping out at the home and getting to spend time with the kids made our stay worthwhile. The children were very patient with us as we tried to improve our Spanish speaking skills and I ended up learning a lot from them. Love and Hope was very organized and helped our group experience many aspects of El Salvadoran culture and Rachel was great with organizing trips to other communities and the local hospital. I did not know what to expect when coming here, but I’m glad I did, and I hope I get to come back and visit again someday!”

– Amrita


“In the process of learning Spanish, I found myself constantly asking, “Que significa?” which translates to, “What does this mean?” Striving for authenticity, I also found myself wanting to know which word is better to use in certain situations.

“Language is something that can help to transcend cultural barriers. So of course word-choice is important. Upon arriving at Love & Hope, what I first noticed was that they used the word “home” or “hogar” to describe themselves.

“The beauty in Love & Hope is that anyone who comes to visit, regardless of race, skin-color, or ineptitude with Spanish is instantly treated as a member of this large family. The staff, children, and volunteers of Love & Hope each, with their distinctive personalities, bring a different color to the table which adds to the beautiful mural that is this home.

“Additionally, Rachel, the founder and director of the home, is called “Mami” by all of the children. There is no better way to describe her. Not only is she a caring, kind, and passionate mother, but she is also the warmest of hostesses, going the extra mile to ensure a visiting group’s comfort and complete cultural experience.

“Because of this and the group’s interest in the medical field, we were given the opportunity to visit the local hospital and travel to impoverished communities. During our visits to communities, we brought donations and gave simple presentations on hygiene and health. When we went to the hospital, we had the chance to shadow doctors and also go on home visits. As a future doctor, I really appreciated the opportunity to see first-hand the way medicine is practiced in El Salvador and compare their practices to my medical experiences from the United States.

“Love & Hope could have chosen “house”, “refuge”, or any other number of words to describe themselves, but what struck me most was the fact that they chose to use “home”. It implies that in Love & Hope, these children, volunteers, and staff are a part of a family. “Home” implies that they will always have a place to go back to, where they will be accepted and cherished for who they are. And I think they chose the perfect word.”

– Isabella


“The entire staff has dedicated a great deal of time to create both an inviting and nourishing environment for the children in the Love and Hope Children’s Home. As an outsider, I did not expect to find a niche in the home’s well-established system or the children’s lives, but was surprised to find that I had become a member of the twenty person family shortly after my arrival. I found common interests with the kids, helped develop and practice both English and Spanish communication skills, and even gave the occasional piggy-back ride. Although this family was comprised of twenty unique individuals, the quality of care and the standard of living was not at all compromised. As a whole, my group witnessed the harsh living conditions some Salvadoran children face, while offering health care to some rural communities. We saw children who had no real potential for improving their conditions aside from the possibility of a gang affiliation which so often affects the lives of the young people in El Salvador. From what I experienced, this home is a vital step in the intervention and betterment of these children’s lives and I consider myself privileged to have been associated with its children, staff, and mission.”



Thank you, UA, for your presence a few weeks ago. We enjoyed learning and sharing with you all, and hope you come to visit soon!

Fresh Fruit

El Salvador is in the tropics, the part of the world located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. That means it is hot. Right now, El Salvador is experiencing the warmest months of the year, as dry season ends and rainy season begins. We’ve been “enjoying” temperatures in the upper 90’s (Fahrenheit) and humidity for weeks now.

One benefit of a tropical climate, however, is a lot of tropical fruit. Everywhere you look in El Salvador there are trees and bushes and vines that give fruit, and the kids at Love & Hope Children’s Home love it. We aren’t just talking about pineapple and watermelon. El Salvador boasts a huge variety of tropical fruit that many people have never even heard of!

Our driver, Alberto, heads to the local market every week to buy produce. He always buys the basics (watermelon, pineapple, imported apples, melon) and brings home whatever fruit is in season.

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The Love & Hope kids are always anxious for mango season, and right now, El Salvador is right in the middle of it. It is common in El Salvador to eat mature, sweet, yellow mango, but it is perhaps more common to smother that mango in lime, salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ground pumpkin seed powder. Sound strange? Don’t decide until you’ve tried it!


Guavas are also native to El Salvador. The guavas we eat are green. Almost the entire guava can be eaten because the seeds are so small, there is no need to eat around them. Again, if the kids had their choice they would liven their guava up with lime, salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ground pumpkin seed powder.

Can you tell the difference between a banana and a plantain? Both are very, very abundant in El Salvador, and both are very, very cheap! A banana, as you know, is sweet and eaten raw. A plantain is hardier, and can be described as a cooking banana. Plantains are delicious fried, paired with re-fried beans, which is how Love & Hope usually prepares them. But plantains are also eaten boiled, or cooked with honey, or sliced potato chip thin and fried until crunchy. They are a staple here in El Salvador, very versatile.


Also in our refrigerator this week are “nances.” This tiny fruit looks like yellow berries and the caregivers at Love & Hope Children’s Home often use them to make a drink.


Oranges are also very common and very cheap in El Salvador. The oranges we typically buy are tougher than a Florida orange. Most people sprinkle a little salt on top, and then bite or suck the flesh out from the orange membrane.


Mamoncillos are a tiny green fruit, the size of a grape. To eat mamoncillos, you first have to bite through and dispose of the outer shell. Inside is a large seed covered in a sweet, jelly-like membrane. Mamoncillos are delicious as is, but we also put them in juice-drinks.

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Limes are a necessity at Love & Hope Children’s Home. Our kids (and everyone else) love them! We use the juice to flavor other fruit, salsa, fish, guacamole, and sometimes soup. Occasionally for lunch, we enjoy limeade! Another favorite of our kids to squeeze lime juice into a bag of Doritos or other type of corn chip. Yum!


Avocados are also a favorite and right now they are in season. Luckily, at Rachel’s house (and also where our teams stay), there is an avocado tree! Sometimes we send the kids up there to pick the enormous avocados! We use avocados whenever we can: a slice with soup, mashed into guacamole with onions and tomatoes, or smeared onto a sandwich.

We also use a lot of fruit to make fresh fruit drinks. No juicer is needed; we blend up the flesh of a watermelon, pineapple or melon in a blender, add some water and sugar, and are left with a delicious drink. These pineapple’s were blended into a delicious “fresco” for lunch.


Tropical fruits are part of life here in El Salvador. Fruits like grapes, pears and apples are often times very expensive, and only bought on special occasions, like Christmas. What fruits are normal fare for you and your family?