Sunday 23rd October 2016
I could not get the image from my mind. As I left the Terminal the other evening the last thing I saw was little Pedro with a scrunched-up rag in his hand that had been soaked in thinner. He repeatedly placed the rag to his nose and inhaled the powerful fumes. For a moment his eyes glaze over and he goes to some distant place in his head and then he returns. He looks up and sees me waving goodbye and half smiles and then sniffs again.
Little Pedro is now spending more time on the streets every day and he and a small group of children who hang out with him have recently had threats from “The Angels”, (the contract killers) from the Terminal. His options are few and he has been both dealing drugs and using them and has tried most things. He is just 8 years-of-age. I chatted with him a couple of days ago when I took him and his brother away from the Terminal for a few hours and he seemed really open to the idea of going into a children´s home.
At the end of our time he held on to me and said he just wanted to live with me and not go back to live in the Terminal. Sadly this is not an option as I could fill my room over and over again with kids who need a safe place to live. I see that when someone offers these kids genuine love and affection they then don´t want to loose it and find it really hard to return to their meager existence. One day we will have the Protection Home (more about this next week) up and running and then we can offer them something more than just a few hours of care.
The week has been rather busy with the visit of Russell and Joseph Soden from Amersham, UK, who came to visit us here in Guatemala City. Russell offered us three days of team training, thanks to Giant. The training really helped the team to identify their working preferences and how we can work more effectively as a team. It has been a real time of team building and Herbert translated for Russell who works in the UK with Giant to deliver some amazing training for teams and businesses.
Visits to the streets have been somewhat traumatic for us but we continue to try and help make a difference where we can. During one of the evening trips we found a young girl who needed her hand attending to. The small cut was obviously causing her pain and so Russell got involved and helped me with a variety of first aid needs. We must have treated about 15 children and a handful of adults with minor cuts, skin infections and wounds from being hit or from the arduous nature of life in the Terminal.
Ben Soden has been working out here as a volunteer for the last two months and has been rather challenged by the number of children we are trying to help everyday and the overwhelming nature of the situations we find in and around the Terminal. One boy Ben has grown found of is little Justin who is keen to come and ask for help with the numerous wounds and infections he has on a regular basis. We have been helping his whole family who have been through some difficult situations recently and so Justin seems to trust us more to help him when he is sick.
Thanks to Ben for his incredible commitment to helping the children on the streets and we wish him well as he considers how he can come back in the New Year and help us again.
One of the highlights of the week was when we attended Josue´s graduation. Josué is 16 and has made many really good decisions to not live on the streets and to focus on getting himself through his primary education. It was rather a moving ceremony and Russell Soden came along with us and then I recorded this video at the end of the ceremony with Russell´s thoughts on the event. Josué, together with his brothers, is fighting hard to achieve so much with little or no support from the family. It is amazing to see how hard some kids work to just get through life but Josué has achieved so much and we are very proud of him.
The week finished with the news of a horrific sexual assault on a young girl in our programme and knowing her and her situation I am wondering how she will get through the next few weeks. The good thing is that we will be alongside her and provide her with the help, counseling and support she will need. This is all possible due to your donations, so a massive thank you for sticking with us because we appreciate it so much.
The coming week looks as busy as ever as I try and get three children, including Pedro, into a children´s home and head down to Honduras for a day of training for the Manuelito Children´s Home and recordings for Radio Christmas. Then I head back to the UK and help the team prepare for the launch of this year´s live Radio Christmas from Amersham and will be travelling around making speeches and presentations, so will see many supporters over the coming weeks.