Jul 15, 2021

Angel

If you have visited Casa Jackson in the past year and a half or have interacted with our social media page, then you will have met our longest-serving patient in Casa Jackson, Angel.

Angel arrived at Casa Jackson in February 2020 after being referred by the PGN (Guatemalan Social Services). His mother had abandoned him as he was too much of a burden for her to look after. Angel was aged around 6 and was unable to walk or talk. Since then Angel has spent over 500 days in Casa Jackson and the progress he has made has been astounding.

When he arrived, the prognosis for Angel was not good. It was doubtful that he would ever be able to walk or talk. He was also unable to focus his eyes. However, after sessions with our staff and volunteers Angel is now not only able to walk completely independently but can also say a number of key phrases to let staff know of his needs. He is also able to communicate non-verbally through actions and symbols to get his point across. Angel eats and dresses himself independently as well.

On top of that Angel has also gained a significant amount of weight since arriving at Casa Jackson. At the most recent weigh-in Angel had gained 16 lbs. 3 oz. or 66% of his initial weight.

So why is Angel still at Casa Jackson? He is actually no longer malnourished and has not been since around April 2020 but has not been able to leave. This is because due to COVID-19 Angel seems to have fallen through the cracks of the Guatemalan Social Services. He was required to go to a children’s home but that home needs to be able to match his needs and provide him with further speech and physical therapy and, as of yet, that has not been possible.

This story may well have a happy ending, however. Angel has an upcoming hearing to attend with the goal of finding him an adoptive family to live with. It seems that there is already a family lined up to take Angel and we just have to wait and see if they are suitable. It is no less than Angel deserves, as he is a wonderful child who brightens up everyone in Casa Jackson’s days.

When the time comes for Angel to join his new family it will be hard to adjust. Many staff members and volunteers alike have become extremely fond of Angel and how he is part of the furniture at Casa Jackson. It will definitely be strange to walk into Casa Jackson and not hear Angel’s voice shouting ‘hola’ to you, pointing to the nurses to show who has arrived. Nevertheless, everything we do at Casa Jackson is for the benefit of our patients and the time has come for Angel to start a new life with a loving family. We can’t wait for Angel to finally get what he has always deserved.

Jun 19, 2021

What Life Could Have Been

Rosa was born into the most difficult of circumstances, like so many other children in Guatemala. As soon as she had entered into this world, her father had already made up his mind that he would abandon Rosa and her mother, choosing not to provide for the gift of a new baby girl that entered into his life. He walked out on his family, leaving only Rosa’s mother, an alcoholic and drug addict, to nurture and care for her.

Rosa has now been part of Asociación Nuestros Ahijados for nine years, but 14-year-old Rosa’s life could have been way different if not for the good heart of a police officer. She started with the program in the year 2012, when she enrolled in our Dreamer Center school. Things were okay then. Rosa was going to school every day and her mother was taking care of her. However, in 2014 Rosa’s mother started to drink and do drugs again. At first it was not much, but little by little her addiction consumed her, she lost her job, stopped looking after her daughter, and became desperate to feed her substance abuse. So, Rosa’s mother took her to Guatemala City in an attempt to sell her for money so she could buy more drugs. A police officer saw then 7-year-old Rosa walking around by herself in dangerous Guatemala City – she was too young to explain where she lived or how to get home or what had happened, so he took young Rosa into his family’s home and care while figuring out the next course of action. After some time, a missing child’s poster for Rosa appeared online and he was able to safely return Rosa back to other family members.

Since then, Asociación Nuestros Ahijados has committed to always looking after Rosa. Without the good hearts of the people of Asociación Nuestros Ahijados and that police officer who happened to see a scared and alone little girl in danger that day, Rosa may very well have become a victim of human trafficking and child prostitution. Instead, last year in 2020, Rosa started middle school in our Scheel Center school. Although the school work can be challenging for her sometimes, Rosa loves learning and has big goals for her future.

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Jun 12, 2021

Educating Children Even When Our School Is Closed

It has been more than a year since the Guatemalan government closed all schools as a precaution to fight COVID-19. In that past year it has been extremely tough for the children of Guatemala to continue their education from home, with many unable to access the resources they need to be able to study at home.

At the beginning of 2021 we made the difficult decision to keep our schools closed for the year.  We believed that restrictions on schools were not going to be lifted for a long time - something which has become apparent as we are six months into the year with no sign of opening anytime soon - and that our children’s needs would be better suited going to schools closer to home. There are many children in our schools who live a long way away from the school and found it difficult to access transport to come in to collect study guides last year. We haven’t abandoned our schoolchildren, however, as we have a scholarship programme to cover their school fees for this year.

Emiliano and his sister Angelina have studied at our Dreamer Center School for a number of years now. This year they are studying in a school closer to their home, meaning that they do not have to spend as much time outside their house and potentially at risk. Emiliano is in second grade and his older sister Angelina is in fourth grade. Both Emiliano and Angelina were hardworking students in the Dreamer Center and this has translated over to their new school where they are continuing to get good grades and complete their work to their own high standards.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it is easy for the children to complete their schoolwork. Much of their work needs the internet to access it, a luxury that most of our former students including Emiliano and Angelina can barely afford to have. Some schools have teachers sending instruction videos via WhatsApp which many of our children have no way of accessing, meaning that the schoolwork is completely beyond their grasp. It is also hard to work with no light or electricity, something that is very temperamental in Guatemala. With no light in the house the children cannot complete their work.

Nuestros Ahijados is working hard to make the lives of our students such as Emiliano and Angelina easier and to take away some of the stress of the pandemic from the family. Every two weeks Emiliano’s mother receives a large amount of fruits, vegetables and other foods such as pizza, sardines and flour to make tortillas. This not only helps to feed the family but also allows the money the family has saved to be used for other things such as internet access, photocopies and school supplies. We have also been giving a number of families solar-powered lamps so that in case of a blackout or light bill not being paid the families are still able to continue their learning. Emiliano’s mother told us that the lamp has been a lifesaver. Finally, through our sponsorship programme we were able to provide Emiliano and Angelina with some much-needed school supplies, as well as a colouring book for their younger sister so that she could take part in study sessions with her older siblings.

Even though our schools are closed this year we still consider the children and families to be a vital part of our project. That means we continue to work hard to ensure that they have what they need and get a fighting chance at success. The rest is up to them, and we are delighted that many children are like Emiliano and Angelina and are working hard to give themselves a better education and future.

 
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