Finding inspiration

By By Ashley McNary

By Ashley McNary

Each day at 6:30 a.m., Taryn Fryer used to wake up, eat a quick breakfast and walk to an orphanage where she fed 20 toddlers and changed their diapers. She could give only 10 minutes of attention to each child, who wouldn’t be changed again for another 12 hours. If a toddler was being difficult or didn’t want to eat, Fryer had to force-feed him or her.

The routine seemed harsh to her, but it was part of a process refined by nuns at Ecuadorian orphanages to care for one of the largest number of orphaned children. The senior in communication had to carefully follow directions given to her in a language she could not speak.

Fryer said the three months she spent volunteering in Ecuador last year made a large impression on her. She left the U as a finance major and returned wanting to study public relations so she could promote volunteering and humanitarian programs around the world.

“Ecuador changed my life?(the children) taught me that every person has a purpose and everyone has someone who cares for them,” she said.

Fryer said there was no leniency in the orphanages’ schedule for volunteers to baby the toddlers or give them extra attention.

She said that people are shocked when they hear how strict the orphanages’ environment was. But the way each child is treated is relative to Ecuador’s culture and the nuns feel there is no other way to run an orphanage more effectively, she said.

“The children knew they had to be tough, but they knew all the nuns and volunteers loved them,” she said.

Fryer was appointed site leader and volunteer coordinator at one of the main orphanages. This position required her to communicate directly with the nuns about how everything should be handled.

Fryer didn’t speak Spanish, but she was able to slightly understand the nuns because both spoke a little French. She said she was able to translate some of the words and make some sense of the foreign language.

At first, Fryer didn’t think she was doing much to improve conditions in Ecuador, but she realized that any interaction with children in the orphanages meant the world to them. She said the children all just needed to be reassured that people care about them and want them to be happy.

Fryer said she grew to love each child in the orphanages, and to this day she can still remember their faces.

The children Fryer took care of would draw pictures and give her little things to show that they cared for her and appreciated having her in their lives, she said.

“Once you look into their eyes, you are sold,” Fryer said. “It is amazing how, with their circumstances, they could be so happy and gracious toward everyone.”

Courtney Bluth, a friend of Fryer and a senior in family and consumer studies, said she can tell a difference in Fryer’s life now that she is home.

“It was amazing to see her transition as to how she was before she left and when she came home,” Bluth said. “Taryn (Fryer) is now completely selfless and always trying to serve others.”

Fryer’s career goals now include working in developing nations to make the lives of others better. Fryer also plans to adopt children someday and encourages others to do the same. She said orphaned children give people a different perspective and make them happier.