Sunday 8thApril 2018
Our work in Guatemala continues to expand as the street team was joined by Lorena Guzman, who moved to Guatemala from Honduras at the end of last year. Lorena was able to join me one day as we visited various homes of the children in the mentoring programme.
One of the homes we visited was that of Miguel and his brothers and sister. Miguel joined the mentoring programme two years ago and continues to receive our help and support in order to keep him off the streets. When we arrived at his home he came out to greet us in bare feet and looked like he had not washed for a couple of weeks and complained of being hungry. Miguel is 12 and lives with his older brother, younger sister and brother, his mum and cousin in one tiny room with no light. A make-shift bed takes up half the room and various bags and boxes are all stacked up around the walls. In one corner a small pile of clothes sit next to a bag of wood that is used to cook for the family. It is hard to leave them in this situation, but we are able to offer them the basic support in order to keep them alive and to help maintain Miguel in school.
Later that evening the street team and Lorena run a series of activities in La Terminal for the children and a separate activity for the mums. The mums are really surprised we want to work with them and are eager to participate in the varied craft activities there are on offer. So often the street team are confronted by huge amounts of need and many mums try and get all they can from us, and wouldn´t you if you lived in poverty? However, it was great to see how the mums just enjoyed being with the team and having the attention focussed on them for a change while another team ran games for the children.
One of the boys in this area of La Terminal is 15-year-old Felipe who had been taking more and more to the streets. His story is not unique but it is deeply sad and the years of neglect and abuse has lead him to make a series of decisions that means he spends most of his life now on the streets. We had been informed that he had been shot and feared the worse, but when we found him he was suffering from having been shot by a shotgun in his face and chest. He had gunshot wounds all over and was allowed out of hospital as the wounds were not life-threatening. He will take a time to recover but this is just another traumatic event in his childhood and I wonder what impact this will have on his life in the short and long term.
On a much lighter note there seemed a small glimmer of hope appearing in the Guatemalan Government´s desire to open their doors and welcome NGOs into discussions about how we could work more closely together. Thanks to the visit from Tim Hines, an American NGO network coordinator, we were able to get a meeting with the Director and her team from Social Services.
There was a tremendous amount of discussion around how the NGOs could offer tremendous levels of support to the government if the government were able to offer the right level of help and coordination. Tim was representing a large group of American NGOs in Honduras who were considering leaving the country due to the political instability and violence. If these NGOs came to Guatemala they would want the government to help them setup here and link with existing services.
One highlight from the beginning of the month was being able to get little Moses into a national football academy, together with Julian his now best buddy and “older brother”. Julian moved to Guatemala at the end of last year with his mother, Lorena, and is currently living in the Protection Home in the city and is slowly adapting to life in Guatemala City and enjoys hanging out with Moses at the weekend.
This relationship has helped me in my mentoring with Moses as Julian is a great example to Moses of a boy who loves God, enjoys studying hard and lives for sport. I am already seeing how Moses is wanting to spend more time with Julian than with me, which is healthy and helps him develop a more tolerant attitude to others and to life.