The bedrooms at Casa Padre are doorless, with walls reaching only halfway to a 20-foot-high industrial ceiling that serves as a constant reminder of the building’s past.
It used to be four beds to a room. But as the shelter fills to capacity, a fifth bed — a cot — has been added to each. Atop one boy’s pillow lay a teddy bear, a bow around its neck and a smile on its upward turned face.
Yellow lines on the ground mark the area boys must line up. In the cafeteria, a mural tells kids to speak quietly, ask before getting up and not share food. Next to their beds are lists of each boy’s belongings: two T-shirts, three pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear, one polo, a pair of jeans. Lights go out at 9 p.m. and come back on at 6 a.m.
There are so many children that they attend school in two shifts: one in the morning, the other in the afternoon. They sit in small, numbered classrooms with yellow walls covered in posters of planets. On Wednesday, through tiny windows they waved to the reporters outside.