Three Lessons Learned from Hosting a Child from Colombia


Hosting a child from Colombia was a life-changing experience that taught us valuable lessons about parenting, culture, and the power of love.

Learn about our top three takeaways from this incredible journey.

In our 30s and with no intention of becoming parents ourselves, my husband and I were always looking for ways to give back, especially to children. Our Colombian Hosting Adventure began with a late-night Google search that led us to the P143 website and a casual inquiry. What followed was a transformative experience that forever changed our perspective on life and parenthood.

Lesson 1: Hosting Doesn’t Require Parenting Experience*

We decided to host a child from Colombia without any prior parenting experience, except for occasional interactions with our nieces and nephews. However, we quickly realized that parenting, while challenging, doesn’t necessarily require a wealth of experience. What these children truly yearn for is love and a sense of safety.

Our host child, Leslie, craved our attention and companionship, whether it was watching TV, cooking together, or even helping me with mundane tasks like scanning papers and stamping envelopes. We discovered that the simple act of showing love and attention could make an enormous difference in her life.

*Project 143 provided us with online training for hosting and partnered us with a mentor family who checked in with us weekly.  We could call our mentor at any time throughout the hosting. We also enrolled in a trauma class which assisted in preparing us for this life-changing experience.

Lesson 2: Colombian Culture is Amazing

Our Colombian hosting experience introduced us to the vibrant and multifaceted Colombian culture, which extends far beyond just speaking Spanish. Although my background was in French, I promptly downloaded Duolingo to learn Spanish the instant we were approved for hosting. In the first five minutes of meeting Leslie at the airport, my limited Spanish skills were put to the test. Over the next five weeks, I made rapid progress in learning basic Spanish, while Leslie surprised us with her understanding of English, which exceeded our initial expectations.

Beyond language, we immersed ourselves in Colombian culture, learning about their foster care system and discovering how to make traditional dishes like arepas. The Colombian culture is a tapestry of unique traditions and celebrations, such as celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve. We even found a Colombian restaurant nearby, offering us a taste of home for Leslie and a glimpse into her world for us.

Lesson 3: The Irresistible Urge to Host Again

Our hosting adventure initially began as a bucket list item, a one-time mission to give back to the world. However, the moment Leslie left our home, we looked at each other and knew that we had been forever changed. It was the small, profound moments that had touched our hearts: a terrified child bravely stepping off the plane into a foreign land, a child who had never experienced the love of a family but learned to trust us in so many ways.

I’ll never forget the day Leslie grabbed my hand while shopping or when she asked me to brush her hair in the morning. These children need adults who can help them rebuild their trust in the world and demonstrate true love. Witnessing a child’s life transform in just five short weeks is an indescribable and irreplaceable experience.

Colombian hosting has etched a permanent place in our hearts. We eagerly anticipate the arrival of each new group of children from Colombia to the United States. It’s a feeling that defies explanation but must be experienced firsthand. We’ve witnessed these children’s lives change dramatically in just five weeks, observing the newfound confidence they gain and the boundless love they not only receive but also give to those who open their homes and hearts.

Learning Spanish and savoring delicious Colombian cuisine are just a few of the highlights, but the simple joy of holding a child’s hand is something we yearn for again and again.

Colombian hosting has left a lasting impact on our lives. It has taught us the importance of love, culture, and transformation. If you are considering hosting a child from Colombia, I encourage you to take the leap. We are forever grateful for the opportunity to have hosted Leslie and for the lessons she taught us.

Author: C.H. (September 2023)


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