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Passing on the baton

Passing on the baton

Monday 25th March 2024

Today we enter Holy Week and prepare for the Easter celebrations and the completion of Lent.  It´s a time for reflection and for new beginnings and with this mind I reflect on the work in Guatemala and look forward to what is to come for us, as a charity, when I return from my sabbatical.

The word sabbatical comes from the Hebrew word `Sabat´ and means a break from work. My three-month sabbatical starts this week and it will be an interesting experience taking such a long break away from the work in Central America and focussing my attention on other things for a while.

For the last 32 years I have been working with the children and youth at risk in Guatemala and Honduras and can see how this work can impact upon one´s life. One can´t help but be affected, in some way, by the trauma of others.  But, at the same time, I can honestly say that there is nothing more rewarding than feeling that a huge chapter is now being closed for me as exciting doors are opening and new adventures will soon begin.

On my return in late June to Guatemala, I will continue to live there, but my role will change quite dramatically as a new Guatemalan Board have now taken on the responsibility of running and caring for the SKDGuatemala work.  God has provided an excellent group of committed and supportive people who will now administer the vision and mission and ensure we keep focussed on the needs of the children.  I won´t be working so much with the children as before but will be looking to see how the development of our young leaders will help provide the first fruits of the greater vision to reach into other countries and impact the lives of the street-living children around the world.

I will be committed to developing a new global mapping strategy that will help us identify where in the world children are still living on the streets, how many are there and who is working with them.  This will inevitably lead to global strategies to reduce the numbers of children living like this and help states develop programmes to ensure their protection and safety.

Leaving behind the children is not easy, but when I see how much passion the local teams have to their wellbeing and how committed they are to keeping them safe and helping them thrive, I am moved and thankful to God for so many Guatemalans who have now taken on the baton and are running a great race.

Our kids are survivors and don´t need to be reminded of where they and their families have come from, they know that all too well.  We need to keep motivating them to see the bright horizon of possibilities and opportunities ahead and help them take the steps that will lead to growth, happiness and success.

dunc and angel

It is extremely humbling to watch the older youth / young adults who have grown up through the mentoring programme and who are now leading the children.  One of them, 15-year-old Melvin, was telling me recently of how he feels he connects with the children. “No one can fully understand what each child has gone through and is going through” he tells me, “but we all know what it is like for us and we just know when a child needs a hug or needs to be left alone”.  He is insightful and we talk further on the subject and how it is that we have never heard any of the children or youth even make fun of another child because they don´t have shoes, don´t have underwear, have a strong odour, or show signs of abuse and neglect.  Melvin tells me: “We just know”, and it is this knowing that leads to some very special work.  It is very emotional to watch this happen and to see the love that is transmitted between the older and young children.

I can now enjoy the break my mind, spirit and body need and know that when I come back all will be well and maybe even in a much better place – that would be exciting!

Thank you all for your prayers, for your messages of support and especially for your support which we will need even more in the coming months.  Lives are being changed and I hope you will keep your eye on our social media feeds and be encouraged to see what your support is doing to reach over 650 vulnerable children in Central America.

Will catch you on the flip side in early July!

Duncan Dyason is the founder and Director of Street Kids Direct and founder of Toybox Charity.  He first started working with street children in 1992 when he moved to Guatemala City and founded The Toybox Charity.  His work has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen and he was awarded an MBE the year he celebrated working over 25 years to reduce the large population of children on the streets from 5,000 to zero.  Duncan continues to live and work in Guatemala City.