When Eleazar Santiago’s (above, right) parents abandoned him and his six younger siblings when he was just a teenager, he thought his life was over. As the oldest, he was now responsible for six little lives and he did not know how he would raise them while still attending high school. Living in Ensenada, Mexico where more than 50% of the population lives below the poverty line, Eleazar and his siblings were left to completely fend for themselves. They all lived together in a small shelter with dirt floors, no water, no electricity, and no beds. This was the worst time of his life, but Eleazar was no stranger to difficult circumstances. Life had always been very challenging for Eleazar growing up poor in Mexico.
At five years old, he began working alongside his mom and dad in the fields to help earn money to feed the family. Eleazar did not attend his first day of school until he was 11 years old! After his parents left, Eleazar was determined to continue his education, knowing it was the only way he could eventually make a worthwhile living to support his siblings. He took his two little brothers, Luis and Ubaldo, to high school with him every day since there was no one to watch them. They sat in the back of the classroom while Eleazar studied. When this situation no longer became tenable, Eleazar decided to drop out of school and find a job. However, a concerned teacher saw so much potential in Eleazar that she found another solution for him… Kids’ Kingdom Orphanage.
Kids’ Kingdom is a safe and loving home for abandoned children in Ensenada, Mexico. The orphanage provides food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, and vocational training to 40 abandoned children between the ages of 3 and 21. IRT provides monthly support to ensure all the children’s daily nutritional and educational needs are met. Kids’ Kingdom is a special place where neglected children can grow, thrive, and become productive, flourishing adults who can have a positive impact on their communities.
Living at Kids’ Kingdom gave Eleazar freedom. Freedom to be a kid again. Freedom to concentrate on his studies. Freedom to not worry about where his next meal would come from. And freedom to explore and learn about himself.
Tomas and Maricela Shockey, the director of the orphanage, said Eleazar was very shy and serious when he first arrived. Now several years later, Tomas has watched Eleazar blossom into an assertive and confident young man. Just last year, Eleazar accomplished what he previously thought was impossible - he graduated from college with a degree in computer science. Eleazar loves watching his siblings grow up in this loving home. He is glad they get to experience the joys of childhood that he never did.
This year, before he starts to pursue his career in the outside world, Eleazar is showing his appreciation to Tomas and Maricela for the loving home they game him and his siblings. He substitutes as the boys’ dorm leader, he serves as the on-call driver, he works as IT supervisor by managing all of the orphanage computers, he helps the children with their computer-related homework, and he is growing a garden and fruit tree orchard on the property. In his spare time, he loves to play soccer and practice Jiu-Jitsu. Tomas says they can’t wait to see what Eleazar, their resident renaissance man, will do next!