The GOD'S CHILD Project

The GOD'S CHILD Project mission is "to break the bitter chains of poverty through education and formation." While GOD'S CHILD is rooted in education, we aim to support the communities we serve at every level of development. Through our wide range of programs, we help children and families living in extreme poverty to meet their basic needs and find a restored sense of hope, self-worth and human dignity.
Jun 6, 2012

Dreams born in a garbage dump

Maria Paula
Maria Paula

She sat on the rotting garbage as if she were a queen seated regally on top of a gold-gilded throne.  She knew this place, she said, and she has had dreams here.

 Maria Paula, the young queen of this smoky domain, is all of 10 years old.  Her voice is deep from constantly breathing the smoke and toxic fumes that rise from the refuse.  Her hair is tied back with a pink band, yet filled with lice.  She’s unbelievably beautiful, yet dirty and covered in something sooty and oily.

She wants to go back to school, she says. Then she wants to get a job.  She says that God made the situation as it is, and because of it she now is the only one in the family who can care for her younger brother and sister, as well as her aging grandparents.

She’s skinny and small for her age.  She’s covered in bug bites, bruises, and scrapes.  Someone hit her on the side of the face, but she won’t tell me who or what happened.

She’s lived and worked in this garbage dump outside El Tejar, Guatemala for most of her short life. When she was too young to remember, her father died. Her mother quickly found a new partner, but this man didn’t like the small children who looked like their father.  The new boyfriend beat the children for no reason, Paula said, and he always hit her the most.

One day, Paula’s grandmother came to visit. She saw the bruises on the children and knew what was happening. She brought all three of her grandchildren back to live in her tiny shack that day.

The siblings were happy living with their grandma and grandpa. They were loved and cared for. Although they never had much of anything, they had enough to get by, and together the children discovered happiness.

The grandparents even let Paula, her brother Carlos, and her little sister Karla go to school.  That lasted for a couple of years, Paula says. She smiles while remembering the classrooms, lunches, teachers, and homework.

Then, their grandpa became too weak to work. There wasn’t enough money for him to visit a doctor, so he just got worse and worse. Eventually he could barely lift his arms high enough to feed himself.

Their grandma went to work in the only place she had ever had a job…the garbage dump.  Years ago, she had searched for scrap tin and aluminum cans there, but when she married, she said she would never go back.  Now, though, her husband and grandchildren were starving.

The grandmother pulled Paula and her siblings out of school. With sadness in her heart, she taught them how to sift through the rotting food, old diapers, and other waste to find recyclable items.

Together, this family earns about $55 a month collecting cans and plastic. They spend all of it on food.  The children go to bed hungry every night.

From her garbage throne, Paula tells us about the bad days; the moments when they can’t find enough recyclables to buy even a few tortillas and beans.  She explains how she can tell if the rotting food she sifts through is OK to eat.

We watch her grandmother in the distance, slowly bending over as she sorts through another of the endless piles of garbage. Paula talks about how worried she is about her grandparents’ failing health.

What will we do if my grandparents die? Paula asks, more to herself than to us. Just a child, she’s already suspicious outsiders who offer help and make promises. She doesn’t believe our offer to take care of her, Carlos, Karla, and her grandparents.

So, we leave the children at the dump and promise something small…to return the next day with new clothes and shoes. The following morning, we find them waiting by the side of the dump, trying to hide their excitement. Paula stays distant, and focuses too much interest on her work.

Next, we promise to bring them some food. Little by little, our promises get bigger.

Finally, after several visits, we make them a huge offer. Let us help your family, we say. Paula and her siblings can go back to school, where they belong. Her grandma can stop digging through the trash piles.  They can all visit our clinic for free.

Paula is quite for a very long time. No one in the family knows what to say or do. We tell them more about ITEMP.

Then, very thoughtfully, Paula asks if she can start school in first grade. She won’t do it if she has to repeat kindergarten, she says. Kindergarten was too easy. We say yes.  Her face brightens into a big, beaming smile.

Watching Paula, Carlos, and Karla play during recess last week, we saw three happy kids right where they should be…learning and growing, taken care of, and loved.

Links:

Jun 6, 2012

Happy Birthday, Beto!

Beto
Beto's Birthday Party

On May 23, we celebrated the third birthday of a very special little boy nicknamed "Beto." Alberto came to us in March 2011 at 22 months old, weighing only 13 lbs. Not only did our sweet Beto survive, he has thrived with the medical care, love, and (LOTS OF) attention he has received throughout the past 15 months at Casa Jackson. We all had a wonderful time celebrating Alberto, and he had a wonderful time being the center of attention throughout his first ever birthday party.


We first introduced you to Beto last year, but his continued presence at Casa Jackson has truly made him part of our family. His parents, unable to care for him, stopped coming to visit Alberto many months ago and we've been looking for a permanent home for him since then.

Recently, a distant relative came to visit us after Alberto's mother reached out to her. Mayra, who is technically one of Beto's cousins, lives near the Pacific coast with her husband and their five children. Although their home is small, their hearts are big enough to accept Alberto into their family.

We're taking our time to introduce Beto to Mayra and her family. She comes to visit nearly every day and Alberto's really warmed up to her, as he eventually does with everyone he meets. As he blew out his birthday candles, our staff and volunteers made the silent wish that next year Beto would celebrate his birthday in a real home, surrounded by a loving family.

Links:

Mar 28, 2012

Rosita's Angel

Rosita
Rosita

For our organization's April newsletter, I wrote about the wonderful and life-changing bond that one of our Scheel Center students has with her sponsor, Carla.

Carla met Rosita in 2004, when she was building a GOD'S CHILD Project home for Rosita's family. At the time, Rosita was a tiny 7-year-old girl who had been confined to an old, wooden wheelchair since birth. Rosita has spina bifida. Her family lived in a small shack at the top of a steep hill, and it was hard for her parents to carry Rosita's chair up and down the hill. So, Rosita didn't leave the house much and had never been to school.

Although very shy, Rosita watched the group of gringos build her new house. One day, Carla asked if she could pick Rosita up and give her a hug. Carefully, Carla scooped her out of her wheelchair and was surprised by the strength of the malnourished child's hug.

Carla's trip ended and she went back to life as usual in St. Louis, Missouri. She thought often about Rosita and knew that, because of the family and the place Rosita had been born into, she wouldn't have many options in her life. This made Carla sad.

When Carla returned the following year to build another house for another family, she asked our employees if she could go see Rosita again. The little girl hadn't grown much, and her mobility hadn't improved at all. Carla knew that she had to do something to change Rosita's fate.

So, with the help of friends, she raised money to buy Rosita a new wheelchair. Our staffed asked if she would be Rosita's madrina, or Project godmother/sponsor. She agreed and neither of their lives were ever the same again.

A physical therapist started working with Rosita twice a week to improve her strength and independence. For a while, Rosita was even walking with a walker. Carla and her friends continue to cover this expense even now, 7 years later.

Rosita told Carla how badly she wanted to go to school, and how she believed that she could get good grades. Carla found a private tutor that visits Rosita's house 3 times a week. Then, once a month, Rosita turns in her work at Scheel and checks in with her teachers.

Although Rosita isn't a "normal" student, she fits in great at Scheel Center. All Scheel students are facing some special challenge in their lives. Whether this be a physical obstacle like Rosita's, pressure to join a gang, teenage pregnancy, drug/alcohol dependence, or problems at home...all of our Scheel students are struggling to stay on course.

Rosita is lucky enough to have a great Project sponsor who supports her special needs and encourages her to stick it out when the path gets bumpy. Many of our older students don't have sponsors. Please, consider sponsoring a Scheel Center student as they fight to get their education.

Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy
Carla
Carla

Links:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
  • $25
  • $75
  • $100
  • $150
  • $500
  • $1,000
  • $3,000
  • $10
    each month
  • $25
    each month
  • $75
    each month
  • $100
    each month
  • $150
    each month
  • $500
    each month
  • $1,000
    each month
  • $3,000
    each month
  • $
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of The GOD'S CHILD Project

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about The GOD'S CHILD Project on GreatNonProfits.org.