Written by Nidia Evelin Ruiz Lopez
I have many memories of life before coming to Shining Light. Although some memories are not happy, I am grateful for the time I had with my parents and the opportunity to carry those memories with me through life.
On April 24, 2010, my siblings, Pancho, Jaqueline, Alana, and I arrived at Shining Light. I was eight years old and very afraid and insecure because I had no idea what would happen to us. The transition proved to be quite difficult. I did not adjust well to the place, food, or school. About a year after I arrived, I finally began to feel at home and happy. For several months, I went to the public school nearby until Shining Light started the private school. In time I fell in love with school and loved getting good grades. Often after school, I would draw, bake, play or help in the kitchen. After I graduated from school, I became a cook in the kitchen where I currently work.
In 2018, my mom passed away. It was a very difficult time for my siblings and me when we heard the news. We were able to attend the funeral. In 2015, we heard our dad had passed away but it wasn't until this year that we knew for sure.
Turning eighteen years old meant a lot to me because I was able to get my ID and passport. It also enabled me to start the paperwork for custody of my siblings so they would no longer be registered with DIF and we could have more freedom. The process took five months and finally, a few days before Christmas 2021, DIF gave me custody of my siblings. We now live here at the home.
This year I achieved one of my dreams. I traveled to Canada, a place on my list of destinations I want to visit before I die. The opportunity to go presented itself when the houseparents planned to visit their family in Canada and invited me along. This would keep me from traveling alone internationally since it would be my first time. In the three weeks of vacation, I visited several friends who live in Ontario, Canada. I also went hiking in the mountains. Everything seemed so green to me since I live in a semi-desert. I visited several lakes and went kayaking and boating. Another special event included attending Faith's (a former staff member) wedding! I was so excited to finally attend a wedding! I've received lots of wedding invitations, but have never been able to go since they've been in the USA and I don't have my visa yet. I also had the opportunity to visit several tourist places, including Niagara Falls. Hearing the loud roar of the falling water impressed me so much, yet at the same time made me feel so small. It was definitely a place to save in my bucket of memories.
I am very grateful for the children's home and for all they have done for me. They have provided food and clothes and taught me the principles I have now. One of the most difficult things growing up in the children's home is the constant change of caregivers. I had twenty-five caregivers in the ten years I spent as a child at Shining Light. Now I work as a cook and plan to continue helping in the kitchen. In the future, I would like the chance to work at another job or mission if an opportunity presents itself. One of my dreams is to live with my siblings in a house of our own. I would also like to visit different places, including the Maldives, France, Suiza, and Italy.