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.
Mar 6, 2012

Esperanza...A name that says it all

Heart
Heart

In recognition of International Women’s Rights Day (March 8), we wanted to share with you this message from ITEMP Operations Director, Claire San Filippo.

Today the world celebrates women. We rejoice in our respect and appreciation for them. We honor their advancement and contribution in our global society.

In a patriarchal country like Guatemala, however, machismo remains pervasive. There's a lot left to do here in the fight against discrimination, gender-based violence and widespread human rights violations. Here, women are often considered inferior to men, sometimes even viewed as merchandise. They are at high risk for abuse and exploitation...including human trafficking.

Meet Esperanza, for instance. Her name means "hope." She's a pretty and energetic 15-year-old girl whose eyes invariably light up when she starts speaking about her latest passion: computers. Although you can't tell by looking at her, Esperanza isn't just any teenager. She's a survivor. When she was 13, she was kidnapped on her way home from school, held captive by a group of men who did unspeakable things to her over and over again. Eventually, they dumped her on the streets.

Although safe from her attackers, her personal hell was far from finished. Her family called her a “slut." One of her uncle’s even tried to rape her. Since she had been ravaged, she was not a virgin anymore and thus a “hooker."

Esperanza was enrolled in our program to help her recover from this traumatic event and rebuild her life. She was given medical and psychological assistance, as well as legal aid. She was enrolled in school. That’s where she learned about computers.

It's been two years. Esperanza's obviously still trying to forget but she has made tremendous progress. The once destroyed and terrified girl has become a shy teenage, but eager to survive and full of life.

As Esperanza continues to rebuild her life and plan for the bright future that lays ahead of her, we wanted to thank our generous supporters for helping provide this opportunity for her. Hope is precisely what you give Esperanza and all of the other women in Guatemala who have suffered in silence for so long.

Happy International Women’s Rights Day.

Please remember that human trafficking is a worldwide issue, threatening to destroy our neighborhoods just as it endangers boys and girls in Guatemala.

Links:

Feb 16, 2012

Remembering Frank

In Memory of Frank Lisandro
In Memory of Frank Lisandro

Frank was gravely ill when he came to Casa Jackson. The 10-year-old boy with very devoted parents had been living a nightmare for the last 2 months. Frank had always been a healthy, happy boy who loved going to school and playing soccer with his friends, his parents told us. You wouldn't know it, looking at this little boy who weighed less than 50 lbs.

Frank started complaining of strong headaches towards the end of last school year. His parents, poor and uneducated, didn't have many options, so they took him to a public hospital where care is free but sub-standard. The doctors told Frank's parents that they needed to perform brain surgery.His parents didn't really understand the terminology the doctors were using, and didn't know what questions to ask before consenting. Following surgery, Frank lost his appetite and only ate a couple of spoonfuls of food and liquid each day. He was now too weak to walk, stand, or sit on his own, and even speaking was painful.

Since the surgery, Frank’s parents were going without food to purchase his medicine. His father, a carpenter, was working 18 hours a day to earn money; while his mother stayed by his bedside. They brought him to several  hospitals and clinics. They were turned away each time until a doctor told them about Casa Jackson. It was hard for them to believe that we would try to help Frank at no cost. His father tried to repay us by offering to use his carpentry skills to build anything we needed, and offered for his wife to work as our maid.

Only a couple of days after Frank was admitted, he suffered a series of large seizures in the middle of the night and was rushed to a near-by hospital. Tests revealed that Frank had a large brain tumor. Casa Jackson staff used their connections to arrange an appointment with a well-known neurologist in Guatemala City, to find out if the tumor was operable and if Frank would survive long enough to have the surgery.

The day of the appointment, Frank must have known his time was limited. He kept telling his father that he just wanted to go home. Fifteen minutes after we gently placed Frank in his bed at home, he passed away surrounded by his loving parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

The staff and volunteers at Casa Jackson share his family's profound grief but also their hope that Frank is now at peace. We wish this story had a different ending but, unfortunately, not every story is a success. Sometimes, children come to us too late to help. Despite our best efforts and well-connected medical network, we can't save them. These moments are thankfully few, but definitely the hardest at Casa Jackson. But they also remind us why this work is so vitally important in Guatemala. We work in memory of children like Frank, who came to us far too late and left us far too soon.

Links:

Dec 29, 2011

New Year's Resolution Time!

Credit Ray Conway
Credit Ray Conway

The end of the year is the perfect moment to reflect on the work that has been carried out during the year.

Despite our hard work, 2.5 million people are being trafficked right now. These victims are usually our most fragile neighbors: children, young women, and runaways who are abused, degraded, and victimized.

Guatemala is no exception. This is why we work to prevent, rescue, recover and rehabilitate human trafficking victims. This year, we rescued 12 trafficking victims. A dozen broken people, who had been ruthlessly exploited and denied their basic human rights. There was Maria, who came to Antigua hoping for a better future and had her life turned to hell when she was forced into domestic labor and pressured to sell her children. There was Gabriela, who had been sexually exploited in horrific ways. Twelve lives changed permanently because of our help and protection.

ITEMP provided all of them with medical and psychological care, social and legal assistance, as well as with education. And most importantly, we gave each person their dignity back.

The end of the year is also the best time for New Year’s Resolution. Ours is to keep rescuing victim after victim after victim. We resolve to keep fighting against modern day slavery in all of its terrible shapes.

What is your resolution? Will you help us in our battle? You can make a difference in 2012. You can offer a fresh start and a new life to a trafficking victim with a simple donation. Happy New Year from each of our rescued victims, and from all of us at The Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons.

Links:

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