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.
Sep 11, 2012

Educate a mother, save the life of a child - Sylvia and her son learn to live with Downs Syndrome

Shortly after arriving to Casa Jackson
Shortly after arriving to Casa Jackson

Silvia greets us at her front door with a smile and invites us to sit on the bed in her small but well-kept one-bedroom house where she lives with her husband and two little boys. We gently ask her to tell us about the birth of her youngest son, Jose Emanuel. Lowering her gaze, she smiles at the beautiful baby sitting in her lap. At the same time, a sadness flickers across her face as she begins to recount the all too recent battle to save the life of Jose Emanuel.

“Just a skeleton,” Sylvia thought, when she saw her baby boy for the first time on July 26, 2011. Jose Emanuel was born premature and with Down's Syndrome and spent the first 18 days of his life in the hospital. He was released and sent home, but it was then that the complications really began. Sylvia and her husband didn't understand anything about Down's Syndrome, how to care for a baby with the condition, or how it was going to affect their lives and that of their newborn. Jose Emanuel wouldn't eat, he never stopped crying, and his mother didn't know what to do. His health quickly deteriorated and the family returned to the hospital and admitted Jose Emanuel into intensive care. The doctor took one look at her baby and told Sylvia that Jose Emanuel wouldn't recover. His fever was so high that at one point he actually stopped breathing and the entire room thought he had passed away. They placed the baby in an ice bath and miraculously, Jose Emanuel began to breathe again. Another eight days in the hospital and the doctors sent the family home once again – no more prepared or educated than the first time to care for their fragile baby boy.

Sylvia still didn't know how to feed her baby; and after so many hospital visits and medical exams she and her husband weren't even able to afford the baby formula he so desperately needed. Jose Emanuel lost more weight and grew sicker everyday, until finally the hospital referred his case to Casa Jackson. Sylvia knew that Jose Emanuel would only survive if she left him in their care, but her heart broke when she had to walk away from him for the first time. What came next was even harder for Sylvia to understand – the idea that social workers and medical staff questioned the love she had for her child, the belief that she may have been negligent in his care, and the reality that he might be taken away from her.

Over the next four months, Jose Emanuel was nursed back to health by the dedicated staff and loving volunteers at Casa Jackson. Sylvia never missed an opportunity to spend time with her baby, and although money was scarce she made the trip to see him every week. She spent time with the doctors, nurses, and spoke with the social workers, who finally concluded that she was in fact a fit and loving mother – she simply needed to learn how to properly care for Jose Emanuel. Every week, Sylvia watched how the nurses fed him his bottle, how they bathed him, and how they administered his physical therapy. Jose Emanuel struggled every day with a build-up of phlegm in his lungs. The apparatus to help clear his lungs and allow him to breathe was expensive, and although he couldn't live without it, the family couldn't have dreamed of affording it. Volunteers at Casa Jackson raised the money among themselves to buy Jose Emanuel the machine. Each visit, Sylvia asked more questions and the nurses told her everything they knew about Down's Syndrome. “It was shameful for me,” recalls Sylvia, “What mother doesn't know how to care for her own child?” But every week it became easier and Sylvia felt more comfortable and more capable. She says that when he was first born she cried a lot and that she feared for Jose Emanuel because he would always be different. At Casa Jackson, Sylvia began to reflect and realized that their family has been blessed. “For us, Jose Emanuel is normal. He is what we have been given and we will fight for him. If we fight for him, he is going to be an even better little boy than all the rest.”

While Jose Emanuel was recovering in Casa Jackson, a service team from Nuestros Ahijados raised enough money to build the family a new house. When he was finally released, the family had a safe, dry, and clean home to take him to. Sylvia and her husband never dreamed of having their own home, “I am grateful from the bottom of my heart and always will be. This house... Casa Jackson...the nurses... they are like gifts that fell from heaven.”

Casa Jackson is home to some of the sickest and most malnourished babies in Guatemala. With your donations, we continue to provide refuge for babies like Jose Emanuel. Every contribution makes a difference in the loves of the little patients that call Casa Jackson home.

Jose Emanuel severly malnourished
Jose Emanuel severly malnourished
Sylvia, Jose Emanuel, and brother Angel Gabriel
Sylvia, Jose Emanuel, and brother Angel Gabriel
Jose Emanuel happy and healthy
Jose Emanuel happy and healthy

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Sep 11, 2012

Against all odds, Mirza has never stopped dreaming

Mirza Paola
Mirza Paola

Every child brought into this world is a blessing and one of a kind; Mirza reminds us of that every day. Mirza is a unique young woman for myriad reasons, only one of which is the fact that she was born with an extremely rare congenital disorder known as Hallermann-Streiff Syndrome and is one of fewer than 200 people living with this condition worldwide.

She was born premature and arrived with a long list of complications. Doctors operated almost immediately on her severe cataracts and sent her to exam after exam because they weren't able to determine her condition. Over the next few years her health problems persisted and it became increasingly apparent that physically she was not developing like other children. She experienced severe headaches and chest pains, her vision loss persisted, her hair was not growing and neither was she. The doctors believed she had another rare condition called Progeria, in which the symptoms resemble an accelerated aging process. It wasn´t until two years ago when Mirza joined us at Centro Scheel and underwent further examination that she was finally diagnosed with Hallermann-Streiff.

When she was a baby, the doctors told Mirza´s parents they didn't think she wouldn't live to celebrate her 12th birthday. Mirza is now 21 years old, 4 feet 2 inches tall, and full of energy, talent, and ambition. Growing up has not been easy; she was born into a very poor family in a dangerous neighborhood, her mother abandoned her when she was 12, and due to the complications of her condition and her appearance, leading a so-called normal life has been a challenge. Children at her previous schools didn't understand why she was different and often ridiculed her; people in the community and on the street still say hurtful things and make fun of her appearance. Her vision is continually deteriorating and for this reason her case was brought to the administrators at Centro Scheel two years ago. She was enrolled in the school and is now in the 8th grade.

In Centro Scheel, Mirza says she finally feels comfortable and safe. It took time to get past her defenses, but she eventually felt comfortable enough to answer the questions from her curious classmates and share with them the details of her condition. She´s not very interested in mathematics and she finds English class really hard, but she loves her art and drawing courses. She makes beautiful art and specially hand-crafted figurines and sells them in her spare time in order to help the family out financially as much as she can.

Mirza has goals and says she will never stop dreaming. One day, she would like to meet her all-time favorite artist, Justin Bieber. She also wants to carry on with her studies to one day be a psychologist. Mirza´s biggest dream however, is to start her own project to educate people about Hallermann-Streiff Syndrome and other conditions like it. She wants to start in Centro Scheel, take her message into the community and throughout Guatemala, and maybe even someday around the world. Mirza believes that with more education and a greater understanding that one day we will respect one another and all of the qualities that make each and every one of us unique.

Centro Scheel is able to continue its work because of the donations we receive from around the world. With your help, Mirza and more than 150 other students at Centro Scheel are in school and pursuing their dreams. Every donation you make opens the door to a brighter future for each and every one of these kids and for Guatemala.

Mirzas tiny home is constructed with sheet metal
Mirzas tiny home is constructed with sheet metal
Mirza is learning to use the computer
Mirza is learning to use the computer
Mirza placed top 10 in Antigua art competition
Mirza placed top 10 in Antigua art competition
Mirzas self-confidence is growing every day
Mirzas self-confidence is growing every day
Sep 11, 2012

Restoring Hope to Those Who Need It Most

Claudia
Claudia's Smile

This beautiful smile belongs to Claudia, a diffident yet cheerful young woman who maintains this smile despite having endured more hardship in her fourteen years than most have in their lifetime.

A mother’s love is something that most of us take for granted, but Claudia never had the opportunity to assume a blessing so great. At age seven, Claudia became one of the youngest sex-trafficking victims we’ve met at ITEMP when her mother sold her to a middle aged man for what amounted to a few dollars. After enduring the unimaginable for several weeks, Claudia escaped, but only knew of one place to go: back to her mother – the one person in the world who was supposed to love her and keep her safe. She was once again trafficked for sexual purposes at age nine, once again to a man more than thirty years her senior.

From the abuse, Claudia bore more than just psychological scars. She suffered physical injuries at the hands of both her mother and the men to whom she was sold, and at the incredibly young age of 11, she was forced to abort a pregnancy that had resulted from her abuse.

The good news is that Claudia’s story does not end there. At age 12 she found the courage to escape her abusers and located her biological father who worked with the local DA and helped get her referred to ITEMP.

On the day we met Claudia she was understandably reserved. But that smile – the one expressing the joy of a childhood she’s just beginning to experience – peeked through when we told her that we were there to help her. At ITEMP, Claudia is now in safe hands and receiving the psychological care she needs to overcome her trauma. She also receives a scholarship allowing her to attend school, giving her a chance at a better future.

Claudia’s story reminds us of the harsh reality that slavery still thrives in our world today. 2.5 million people are being trafficked right now.  These victims are usually among the most vulnerable in our communities: children, young women, and runaways who are abused, neglected, and degraded.

This is why we work to prevent, rescue, recover and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and the worst kinds of exploitation. So far this year, we’ve been able to rescue or help nine victims of trafficking and/or exploitation and their families. ITEMP has provided all of them with medical and psychological care, social and legal assistance, as well as with education. And with these things we were able to instill within each of them something even more important: hope.

Will you help us in our effort to restore dignity and hope to those who yearn for these most basic of things? You can make a difference in the lives of these people. You can offer a fresh start and a new life to a trafficking victim with a simple donation. Every little bit helps. 

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