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.
Oct 3, 2011

Scheel Center youth stepping into action and brighter futures

Scheel students in 2009
Scheel students in 2009

Offering free, accelerated elementary and middle school education and technical training for students up to 26 years of age, the Scheel Center, helps drop-outs go Back to School and strive for success, despite their difficult backgrounds.  In our last update we spoke about expanding horizons, this time we step into action!

For young people with energy and creative spirit, dance offers a great outlet that teaches confidence, discipline, teamwork, and encourages expression.

Scheel Center staff and volunteers work hard to promote positive expression, so students can learn to set and reach for challenging goals, and learn to both excel and to stumble and recover. Of course music is a vital and near universal form of both expression and entertainment for youth.

These photos follow the rise of Scheel youth in a form of gymnastic dance known as 'streamer dancing', from their earliest steps in 2009.  Scheel youth were Jocotenango champions for the first time in 2009, competing with 23 Jocotenango teams beating all schools for a first place trophy. In 2010, they competed against 16 schools and won first place allowing them to compete in national competitions against 22 depatamentos from all over Guatemala, finishing 4th.  Now, Scheel youth have earned 3 first place finishes at the national level.

More import, we are very proud of these guys and gals who compete with love, discipline, responsibility and pride in being students at the Scheel center.  We hope you agree that this helps them to enjoy their education and be motivated to continue their studies and not be bound by roots of poverty or family problems.

While another school year will soon end, our programing will continue during the annual break with a special Literacy building program and extra catch-up classes for students.

Our staff, volunteers and students sincerely appreciate your interest and generous support in our educational and skills training programs! 

With your continued support we are able to offer these types of positive opportunites for our students and to offer a quality program that sees youth step confidently into brighter futures!

Scheel students in 2010
Scheel students in 2010
Scheel students compete at national level
Scheel students compete at national level
Scheel in 2010
Scheel in 2010
Scheel youth group in 2011
Scheel youth group in 2011
Scheel youth 2011
Scheel youth 2011
2011 Champs
2011 Champs
2011 Youth
2011 Youth
Scheel 2011
Scheel 2011

Links:

Aug 23, 2011

A heartbreaking story, hope for a better future

First chance to learn and sensitive support.
First chance to learn and sensitive support.

ITEMP seeks long-term, sustainable solutions to the root causes of slavery. By educating a child, by finding employment for a woman, by giving dignity to a man, ITEMP is able to provide the stepping stones that lead to changed lives. It is not just about treating the symptom; it’s about curing the disease with sensitivity and compassion.

In this first report we would like to share with one very recent example of how ITEMP comes alongside victims to make a very real, caring and sustained difference.

A heartbreaking story, and hope for a better future.

Carlos is one of those endearing children welcoming you with a broad smile and a big hug. When you are eight years old, you are supposed to attend a school, play with other kids and receive your parents’ love. However, for Carlos and his sisters, 12 and 13 years old, life decided otherwise. Abandoned by their parents, they were left behind to live with their 75year old grandmother Teresa, who is in poor health and struggles each day to meet the kids’ basic needs.

Before being assisted by ITEMP, the children used to be taken at 5am every morning to a nearby coffee farm to work just for a bowl of frijoles (black beans) and for a scant wage of 300 Q per month (1 US Dollar(s) = 7. 73 Quetzal), about $1 a day. However, the malnourished indigenous siblings never stopped dreaming about one day going to school and living a less tedious life.

The siblings keep their chin up as their grandmother says, “My life is over, I am too old, what will happen to my ‘nietos’?”. The unity and strength of this family is admirable; but unfortunately not something all children can rely on in this circumstance.

 ITEMP has come along side this and other families in the program with vital and integrated care providing them with a dignified new house instead of a dilapidated, dingy one room tin-roofed shack that could barely provide shelter during the rainy season. ITEMP also provides medical and dental care, regular counseling and a food allowance, a ceramic water filter, a small plastic table and chairs along with a basic hotplate and cooking utensils.

Looking forward, instead of working each day the children now attend school for the first time in their life. All three are now enrolled in Grade 1 at the special Asociación Nuestros Ahijados Scheel Centre that provides education for older students like these who missed the normal chance to attend school. Carlos commented this past week « I can now write and read, and one day I will become a teacher » with sheer eagerness. All of this support is guided by the ITEMP social worker who offers advice and makes them feel that they are not and will not be abandoned. This approach is ensured for every ITEMP beneficiary.

The children now attend school daily and are being supported by their grandmother who while illiterate, is not hindered from trying to help her grandchildren to get a good education, as a key pathway out of misery. Upon their return from school, the kids attend to Teresa’s needs and set a fire to prepare a simple dinner consisting of corn tortillas and beans. As grandmother Teresa was recently hospitalized, ITEMP has loaned a cell phone for emergency use, and is arranging for some help via support circle with neighbours and local church.  In addition ITEMP is arranging for a mentor to teach the children the basics of cooking, hygiene and home care skills that will help to prepare them for the uncertain family situation as Grandma Teresa ages.

This family is not alone as children living in the poorest households and in rural areas are most likely to be engaged in child labour and are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse that often means children do not attend school.

Worldwide there are an estimated 250 million child workers between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. Eighteen million of those child labourers are between the ages of 10 and 14 so like this family children often work long hours in agriculture, harvesting and cultivating coffee or bananas, sugar cane, sisal, tobacco, oranges, and others fruits and vegetables. Child labor is a real problem that continues to grow in Guatemala and in Latin America.

Coffee Production

 Guatemala ranks second in the world in high grade coffee production. A very important commodity to the country, but workers are often paid very little to toil in the coffee fields. As a result, coffee workers, mainly women and children (as young as five or six years old) work in the fields to earn enough for one or two simple meals per day. In order to receive their meager wages, children must meet the same quota as adults. These children cannot attend school not even for the compulsory ninth grade education required by the Guatemalan government. Even though not being officially on the payroll for the coffee plantations and therefore, they often fall through the cracks of any labour protection laws.

 The Guatemalan Government has laws that state children must be a minimum age of 14 for light work and children under the age of 16 are not to engage in work that is unhealthy or dangerous. With the seventy-five percent of Guatemalans living below the poverty line, the cycle of child labour perpetuating poverty continues when a child is put to work and they do not receive the basic education to improve their situation. Poverty is a contributing factor to these forms of child labor low pay and very hard work, as all family members must work to support their family unit and survive. With little money and no education, child labor is an unfortunate cycle that has impacts generation to generation. Some parents even sell their children into bonded labor because they are too poor and see no other alternative.

 Ensuring that all children have the basic necessities and an opportunity for quality education is one key to reducing child labour, abuse and exploitation, and ITEMP is working to break the chains of inter-generational poverty and slavery. Thanks to your support Carlos and his family have hope for a better future.

 NOTE: The names of the children in this story have been altered to respect their privacy.

Safe and Dignified Housing
Safe and Dignified Housing
Much love but an uncertain future
Much love but an uncertain future
Respect and help with real needs.
Respect and help with real needs.

Links:

Jul 14, 2011

Elias Ramirez's Journey To Recovery

Elias upon arrival to Casa Jackson 23/6/2011
Elias upon arrival to Casa Jackson 23/6/2011

When Elias Ramirez was brought to Casa Jackson’s malnutrition center run by Nuetros Ahijados in Jocotenango, Guatemala, he couldn’t sit up, cry or crawl. Elias suffers from a form of malnutrition called Kwashiorkor, which is a result of a protein deficient diet. At the young age of 21 months, Elias was losing muscle mass, had rashes all over his body and a swollen abdomen.

Elias’s mother, Aleyda Ramirez, is eighteen and currently pregnant with her second child. Not only is Aleyda a teenage mother, but she is unemployed and her spouse is a fisherman with a precarious income.  Aleyda and her husband barely manage to visit their child twice per week as the four hour journey from their town called Tecojate is arduous for a family living in poverty.   Elias has been staying at Casa Jackson for the last two weeks, where staff and volunteers constantly monitor his vitals and help with his condition. The medical staff and volunteers not only provide medical assistance, but also the tender loving care all infants need in early childhood. Before Elias is released, the staff will insure he is at 110% of the weight of a healthy and nourished child.

Caring for malnourished Guatemalan children is essential for the future of this Central American country, since half of Guatemalan children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. This issue is something the Casa Jackson Center addresses directly. I know you’re asking yourself, how could my donation help? Your donation would go directly to Casa Jackson’s malnutrition program, which works with families in a comprehensive manner to address their needs. All donations support the critical care and follow-up to identify and diagnose the children, along with follow up care done by nurses and dietitians and the social workers who travel bi-monthly to the homes of these children to follow up directly. Your donations will also go directly toward the vital care for Elias and the other children at Casa Jackson to sustain this integral service in the community.

Elias with his mother (photos by Heather Wehr)
Elias with his mother (photos by Heather Wehr)
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