The Peña Effect

Well, I’ve finally decided to get to the truly good stuff – the kids I’ve met. I’m specifically going to focus on those I’ve bonded with and gotten to know. This next series of posts is supposed to go along with a fundraiser going on at the moment, raising money for the fantastic boys of Proniño.

To find that fundraiser, please go here:

To tell you simply, the fundraiser is selling ornaments to raise a whole whopping $24,000 to send all the boys to school and pay for all of the supplies. In that blog, she not only explains the fundraiser but also is going to, over time, speak about the boys you’re donating too. I also would like to help as much as possible. So let’s get started.

Today, I’m talking about the most giving, kind kid I’ve ever met.

His name is Carlos Peña.

Yes, yes he is holding a chicken. Believe it or not, that’s the Proniño pet. But that’s another story. Carlos was one of the first boys I met at Proniño. He had a glittery belt on and his hair was spiked up with about 10 lbs of gel. He just kind of watched from afar at first, and then his friend, Misael, kindly pushed him towards me and yelled “Hey Gringa! Peña thinks you’re cute!” Carlos smiled and blushed. It was adorable. I mean, adorable, but not in a romantic way. Let’s get that down right now. I may be seventeen but I, in no way, would start a romance with any of these boys. Now that we have that down, back to the story.

I laughed non-chalantly and asked him his name, he said Carlos. I then proceeded to play random games with him since I had no other ways of communcation (disclaimer: I took four years of French, and no Spanish. My Spanish consisted of ‘Hola’, ‘Como Estas’, and ‘Me llamo es’; so it was a little difficult trying to find some way to translate or understand)

We played, and I played with others, and he’d hug me every chance he got and tell me he was glad I was here and that he knew we’d be great friends. When we had to leave, he got pretty sad. “You’re coming back, right?” Yes. But not for another week.

So I worked the next week at Nueva Esperanza and talked to Jenny about sponsoring kids. At that moment I was so entirely in love with both Carlos and another boy, Gerson (who I will talk about later). An idea of sponsorship started forming in my mind.

Soon enough, the week was over, and we proceeded to head back to Proniño. Little did I know what I was in store for. I was shocked to find that, not only did nearly all of them remember us even though we had only spent a few hours with them, but they also were counting down the days until they could see us. We got pounced with hugs. I could see Carlos out of the corner of my eye and he came, shy as ever, and gave me a huge hug telling me he was glad I was finally back.

And then, he pulled a bracelet out of my pocket, and put it on my wrist. It was blue, with X and O repeated on it. The pattern made me laugh, but the fact that he made me a bracelet was so amazing. I said thank you at least a million times, and went on with my day, spending time with all of them – including Carlos.

By the middle of the week I knew I was being called to sponsor Carlos and Gerson. I called my mom up for the first time in three weeks. She was happy to hear me, not so happy to hear the only reason I was calling was to mooch off some money from her. However, she loved the fact that I wanted to sponsor these two wonderful boys. So we did.

The next day I made Carlos and Gerson cards that said, “Soy tu Madrina” (English: I am your godmother/sponsor). Carlos lit up. He hugged me so tight I thought I’d never breathe again. Gerson was happy at first, but then angry because he didn’t want to share his Madrina with Carlos. It was extremely hard to see Gerson this way and it made me pretty upset.

But wouldn’t you know it, Carlos would think of some wonderful solution. He wrote me a letter saying that he was going to be like a big brother to Gerson and was so glad that I had provided him a family. He said that no matter what he’d take care of Gerson and make sure he was always safe. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever witnessed. Soon enough, through Carlos and myself, Gerson became a happily sponsored child.

But the kindness didn’t stop there. Everyday Carlos gave me a compliment. He’d say I was beautiful, or that he liked my shirt, or that he was just glad I was there. His smile is to die for. I swear you’ve never seen anything more sincere and charming. He’d hug gently and calmly and let every kid get their turn, putting everyone first before himself.He’d make me letters that had to have taken him hours. Whenever I picked up a shovel to work, he’d quickly take it from me and tell me he could do it and didn’t want me to get tired. He was kinder to me in that week then any boy has been to me in my life.

Every time I’ve come back I’ve witnessed that same crazy generosity and kindness. He’ll write me letters telling me how much he loves the family me, him, and Gerson have become. He made many more bracelets. He made me pictures. He gave me a necklace. He even made an intensely detailed picture and put it in a picture frame for me. He wrote letters to my parents and sisters thanking them and telling them how much he loves them even though he’s never even met them. I truly have never met anyone like Carlos. He’s a gift from God. He gives, and gives, and gives, and gives. And then on top of that, he’s so kind and loving.


I even got to meet his mom over the phone. One day he borrowed a phone from Lauren, one of the volunteers, and called up his mom. I had just sat down next to him trying to get a rest from the intense soccer game I had just played  (note: it was against 9-11 year olds, and I got smoked). He turned to me and said, “Keili, mi madre!” and handed me the phone. Knowing not even enough Spanish to pass the first week of a Spanish 1 class, I began to blabber in the smallest amount of Spanish I knew. Hi, my name’s Kaylie. I’m his Madrina. I’m proud of him and love him. He’s a nice boy. And then repeated those phrases every time she seemed to make some kind of a sentence over the staticy end. Carlos could see my struggle and took back the phone and said that his mom was so happy that I was sponsoring him and that she said that I would always be a part of her family and she loves me. He then went back to his conversation with her, telling her about the new shoes I had given him earlier this week.

That, was incredible.

Even just seeing his face light up when he talked to his mom was incredible. Who knows how long it’s been since he’s seen her. From what he’s told me, Carlos has spent a lot of time at Nueva Esperanza (an orphanage in San Pedro), so I’m pretty sure he’s spent most of his life in and out of centers, sin familia. Carlos told me when I gave him the shoes that they were so beautiful that he’d only wear them when he got to see his family. Like any other female, I died inside. This kid = AMAZING.

And even that whole long thing can’t even begin to put words to how great this kid is. He’s just one of the kids you can help get an education and live a great life through your donations. Please, please, please donate. For Carlos, and for the rest of the outstanding Proniño boys.



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