Feb 1, 2021

Mothers With Their Eyes to the Future

Every day we have new mothers that come to inquire about becoming a part of La Asociacion Nuestros Ahijados Mothers Club. The Mothers Club is a program that provides our mothers with an education around health, hygiene, the importance of schooling, menstrual health, along with a number of other life skills. This education is administered in the form of weekly meetings that must be attended by each mother to maintain good standing in the club and to be eligible to receive the weekly distribution of vegetables, pizza, clothes, shoes, and medicine that gets handed out every Friday.

COVID forced us to push the pause button on our weekly meetings for the mothers in 2020. However, in this new year of 2021, we have begun our Mothers Club anew. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays of every week, there are workshops being hosted on the grounds of our Santa Madre Homeless Shelter for nearly 100 women on each of those three days. With proper social distancing and hygiene protocols, we are able to bring back these crucial developmental and informative workshops. Each week, these women have the opportunity to learn different skills and enhance their knowledge surrounding different topics. This might be sewing, cooking, gardening, or cleaning.

A couple of the entities we have partnered with in Guatemala to put these workshops on are MAGA (Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Alimentación – Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food) and SOSEP (Secretaría de Obras Sociales de la Esposa del Presidente de la República de Guatemala - Secretary of Social Work of the President's Wife). MAGA is an institution that encourages comprehensive rural development through the transformation and modernization of the agricultural, forestry and hydrobiological sectors, developing productive ways to achieve food security, control, and competitiveness. A representative from MAGA comes to teach the mothers how to plant and seed in on their land. SOSEP’s mission is to empower women to contribute to the integral development of Guatemalan families by strengthening their capacities, abilities, and skills that will allow them to generate greater income for their families.

Providing women with these educational opportunities is critical to our mission of lifting people out of poverty. We are hopeful that these workshops will continue to spur great change in the lives of the women under our care so that they can work towards a better future for themselves and their children.

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Jan 19, 2021

Adolfo's Story

There is still a lot of uncertainty about what 2021 will hold for us. As we arrive towards a year of living under COVID restrictions people are still adjusting and waiting for their lives to return to normal. With vaccines being rolled out around the world there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we have no idea how long the tunnel is. At our Scheel Center School we are still waiting to hear from the Guatemalan government what restrictions will be put in place. As it stands, the schools will not be open for in-person learning, at least at the beginning of the year and, with cases once again on the rise in Guatemala, it seems like that may be a longer-term issue.

 

In the meantime, our students are trying their best to carry on learning and living. For many of our students, including Adolfo, this is more than just finding the time to do schoolwork. Adolfo’s family is one of our families that has the greatest need of our social aid programmes. Whilst the schools have been closed, Adolfo has been looking for work to try and help his family to survive in these difficult times.

 

14-year-old Adolfo is in our Accelerated Primary Programme in 3rd Etapa, currently studying the 4th grade curriculum. He missed out on his education when he was younger becausehis family could not afford for him to go. Adolfo is originally from the municipality of Aguacatán, in the department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. At the age of 7 Adolfo and his family moved to Antigua Guatemala in search of a better life as his parents did not have stable work. Adolfo has six siblings and his parents found it difficult to provide an education for their children.

 

The family did not have enough money to buy or rent a place to live and so they began to look for somewhere where they could live for free. Eventually they were given the opportunity to take care of a farm in Antigua Guatemala where they started building their house. Their house was made of plastic and sheet metal, though after some time the owner of the farm made them a wooden house to sleep in.

 

Adolfo’s parents found a job cutting coffee, though this type of work does not pay well. The money they earn is used to help feed their whole family. However, Adolfo’s father also uses the little he earns to buy alcohol. When he is drinking, he often leaves the family for long periods of time. Adolfo began working to help his mother with the living costs and food of his siblings. The PGN (Social Services) is an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of children, ensuring that they are in school and do not work. They seek help from different institutions so as not to send children to a children’s home.

 

The PGN brought the case to La Asociación Nuestros Ahijados de Guatemala to support them and to provide a place for the children to study. They also carried out medical and psychological checkups on the children to ensure their good health. The Project also gave the family shoes and clothes. The children's mother receives vegetables every Friday, so the family has food at home. Adolfo's older brother studies at night and works by day to provide for the family’s expenses.

 

Adolfo’s father's alcoholism is currently under control and he is working in the fields on the farm that they care for. His mother now has a steady job where she sells tortillas every day. Adolfo’s younger sister has Down Syndrome and she is studying at a special school near the estate where they live.

 

Adolfo has a part-time job now selling coconuts on a bike through the streets near where he lives and from what he earns he uses some for food and the rest of the money buys his clothes. He plans to carry on with his part-time job whilst studying so that he can help his family at the same time as gaining an education.

Nov 24, 2020

A Place To Call Home

If you have ever come down with a ServiceTeam to Guatemala, chances are you have built a “Casa Azul” for a family in desperate need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has been shut down for months on end, preventing ServiceTeams from coming down and making their impact. Many of you who had planned to be with us this year have asked how you can still help from afar. This story is a shining example of how one person’s generosity and burning desire to help the poor changed the lives of a family of eight.

After receiving a one-time donation large enough to build a house from a dedicated supporter of The GOD’S CHILD Project, thus began the process of identifying which family had the greatest need for a new home. Despite not being able to physically come build homes, this amazing donor took it upon herself to make sure home-building continued with the ServiceTeam program put on hold.

Before the pandemic, our social workers had visited a number of families who had requested a new home. Each visit consists of an extensive evaluation of a family’s living situation and the suitability of the land where the house will be constructed. After several home visits by the ANA staff, we decided the Canrey family had the greatest need.

The Canrey family lives in Alotenango, a small town located just 5 miles in the shadows of the imposing and marvellous Volcanoes Fuego and Acatenango. The family is made up of Doña Amabilia, aged 25, her three sons; José (10), Estuardo (5), and Fernando (2), and, their grandparents, Juan and Berta. Also living with the family are two more relatives, Danny, Amabilia’s brother and his wife, Lesbia.

Doña Amabilia entered into a relationship at a very young age and decided to go live with her partner in the northern region of Peten, where she lived for a number of years. Unfortunately, her husband was an alcoholic, which many times led to Amabilia falling victim to his physical abuse. After a while, Amabilia decided enough was enough, leaving her partner to return to Alotenango where she and her children would be safe.

Recent years have been an uphill battle for Doña Amabilia as a single mother who has to work to support her three sons and her parents with food and living costs. The children’s grandmother takes care of them while their mother sells fruit in the market. Amabilia earns around Q1500 ($200) a month to support her family. Her mother suffers from diabetes and needs medicine, which they can’t always afford, to keep her sugar levels balanced.

Their house is made of sheet metal, wooden posts, and plastic tarps with nothing but dirt for the floor. There were three beds inside, each one separated by hanging blankets so as to give a bit of privacy to the eight family members living in such a small space. With so many crammed inside this one place, it is nearly impossible for the Canrey’s to keep things organized. Clothes were scattered and mixed everywhere without a suitable piece of furniture to store them all. Their water supply was in the form of two big blue barrels where you could notice larva and various insects floating around, water that is not safe for anybody to be drinking or bathing with. The wooden fire stove was in first room to the left as you walked in, sitting dangerously close to a few of the wooden posts that were helping keep the house upright, and putting the family at great risk of their house burning down. The wood burning stove also posed a threat to the Canrey’s health, with smoke filling the house, and then their lungs, each time they cooked a meal.

Having seen the conditions of their home first-hand, our ANA staff decided that they were the family with the most need and so they delivered the building materials and tools straight away to begin two intense days of construction. They were joined by members of the extended Canrey family who observed and helped the construction work. A house build during the pandemic means all-hands on deck, and so Hector, Henio, Kevin, Saul, Rodolfo, Robbie, and Brendan came together to put their years of experience and several hundreds of homes under their belts to the test.

In the afternoon of day 1, the rainy season reared its head and brought 45 minutes of torrential downpour as the ANA team and members of the Canrey family scrambled to mix cement and finish laying the new floor. The uneven land and holes in the roof of the home that came as a result of falling rocks and ash from the June 2018 eruption of Volcano Fuego highlighted the urgent need for a new home with a level cement floor. Ten minutes after the rain had begun, water began to seep into the Canrey home and turn the dirt floor into mud. Using cement blocks to divert the water away from the house and cement mix, the ANA staff, soaked to the skin, continued until they had finished the job.

On day 2, it became apparent that the cement floor would need another smaller layer to smoothen it out, as the rain continued for another five hours after the team left for the day. After the storms on day one, the ANA staff made sure to arrive earlier on the second day, departing the Dreamer Center at 7am, to make sure the house was complete before the rain could jeopardize the safety of the family once again.

After another day of solid teamwork of sawing wood, installing the frame, putting up the walls, and nailing on the roof, the Canrey’s house was nearly complete, but not before Jose, Estuardo, and Fernando helped the ANA team slap a fresh coat of our signature blue paint onto their brand new home.

A light rain began to fall once again as the ANA staff handed over the latest house to a family that would make it their home. This time however, there was a new roof to keep them dry.

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