Fr. Ignacio-Maria Doñoro helps children in the Peruvian Amazon with his Nazareth House
Fr. Ignacio-María Doñoro de los Ríos (born in Bilbao, Spain, in 1964), is a military chaplain on leave.
He had always dreamed of achieving the rank of lieutenant coronel. However, along the way he found another dream, and he had to make a choice. The choice was between waiting seven days and reaching the rank he desired, or confirming the leave that he had requested and leaving for the Americas to dedicate his life to helping what he defines as "crucified children," especially those who have been victims of human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation after being abandoned by their parents.
In the Peruvian Amazon
Fr. Ignacio now lives in Puerto Maldonado, in the midst of the Peruvian Amazon, where he directs Nazareth House (www.horgarnazaret.es). Through this apostolate, he works to restore the rights of many children who were abused, and tries to give them back their childhood.
He provides care for 450 children in two houses: one for boys and another for girls. There are 25 permanent residents.
Now, his dream is to build a city for children, which will be named after St. John Paul II. A house will be built to welcome children in special situations, as well as residences for volunteers, and dormitories to house students from other countries who want to experience working with Nazareth Houses. Agricultural and livestock production will be undertaken in order to provide resources to support these Houses.
In order to carry out this whole project, they need economic support. The Peruvian people living in the area help out, although they don’t have many resources. Business people and private individuals from Spain are contributing as well, but Nazareth House needs more; there are many necessities, and many children who need to discover that love exists.
Bosnia, Kosovo, Inchaurrondo…
The story of Fr. Ignacio starts with his priestly vocation. He served for seven years in parishes in Cuenca, and later in the Armed Forces as a military chaplain.
Since he comes from Biblao, a city in northern Spain which experienced terrorist violence resulting from the ETA separatist movement, he has always had a special sympathy for victims of terrorism. As a result, he asked to serve one of the groups most struck by the ETA terrorist organization: the Guardia Civil (Spanish national military police).
And so, after participating in missions in Bosnia and Kosovo in 1997 and 2000, respectively, in July of 2001 he was assigned to the Command Station of the Guardia Civil in the Inchaurrondo neighborhood of San Sebastián, on the northern coast of Spain. There, as often happens in these cases, children were the ones who suffered most as a consequence of terrorism. As a result, his work centered on them. He organized trips, workshops and group activities. Although he himself did not realize it, that assignment was the beginning of a great change in his life.
One day, Fr. Ignacio received a donation equivalent to more than $20,000 US dollars. In principle, it was to be used to buy toys for the children of the military police he was working with. Reflecting on what to do with that money, he concluded that what those children needed wasn’t toys.
He could use the money to help other children in greater need. He thought about countries like Africa or Asia, but settled on San Salvador (the capital of El Salvador), where he traveled in 2002 to help the Daughters of Charity, who take care of single mothers with children suffering from hunger. At that time, fifty children were dying each day from lack of nourishment. The money would be used to buy food for those little ones.