Friday 10th March, 2017
This has been a tough week but also one that has had some very exciting moments. I have decided it would be best to write first about the amazing things that have happened and then write another blog about the tragedy of the fire in the secure children´s home here in Guatemala City.
Our visit to the guys in La Casona is always a mix of joy and sadness. I find Brandon asleep on the streets and had expected him to be waiting for me because I had driven past an hour earlier and found him begging at the traffic lights. He knocked on my darkened window for money and when I wound it down and he saw me he smiled and asked if I was visiting later.
Gerson was still unwell and was telling me again how bad his eyesight has now become. He asked very respectfully is he could borrow my phone to play a game on it called Talking Carl. It is a simple game but Gerson loves it. I watch him squat down and play on the phone and interact with it like a small 6-year-old boy would with two actions figures.
After our time there we head back to The Centre and I meet with Josué, one of the older boys in the programme. Josué, is 16 and like so many his age, are now at school at the weekend and working during the week. Saldy Josué had not been able to find work. He is a hard worker and despite his slim build he is very strong due to the many lorries he has had to unload in La Terminal. One day he worked all-day and late into the night and was exhausted by the end but was only paid $2!
I had spoken with one of the bosses at a local hardware store and asked if he would give Josué a chance. Things had been tough for them, as a company, and they were not looking to take on another worker. I knew that he would have a good job here and so offered the incentive of paying for the first few months salary if they would train him. The boss was very excited about helping him and since it came at no cost for the time being he was willing to take him on board. We hope this works out for Josué as I know he will use his salary to help support his family rather than spend it on himself.
The good start to the week continued with little Moses telling me how much he loved school and was doing well. One day he had to go dressed to celebrate the day of the Indian. Being in the mentoring programme means that we get deeply involved in the lives of the kids and have the joy of seeing how much they change as they grow. Another one off the streets and in school!
Joseph Soden and me had been talking together about the next big project – the Protection Home. We had recorded a short video and wanted to launch an appeal for funds to help us buy the home we are currently renting and transform it into a short-term weekly boarding home for the most vulnerable kids we work with, as well as develop a second mentoring centre there. It is quite an exciting project and I am sure you will be hearing more about it as the weeks go by but there is more about this on our website.
The purchase price is $240,000 and then we would need to refurbish the home in four different phases starting with the actual living accommodation for the children. We had promises and one donation that came to between $40,000 - $50,000 and quite a way short of the money needed to buy it. Then I had a phone call!
A couple called me one evening to ask me a series of questions about the home and how it would look and be run. I know there are still so many things to work out and budgets to prepare and permissions to obtain, but we are excited about what we feel God wants of us and of this place. As the questions were answered I was informed that they both felt before God that they wanted to help us and offered us a donation of $200,000! It was one incredible phone call and we are thankful to them and to God for this amazing answer to prayer.
We are now moving forwards to buy the property and will soon be launching an appeal from now to the end of the summer to help refurbish the place, buy all that the home needs and see how we can make the dream come true. Joseph Soden, from Amersham in the UK, has offered stay on and head this project up for us. Exciting times indeed.