Break the Chains of Slavery

by The GOD'S CHILD Project
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Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery
Break the Chains of Slavery

At Casa Jackson on the 20th of January we had a new visitor. 1-year-old Alejandra arrived severely malnourished and in desperate need of the medicine and nutrition we provide to help our most vulnerable baby-patients to recover.

At first it seemed that Alejandra’s case was a case similar to many others that we have in Casa Jackson. She was referred by the health centre of Escuintla and was due to arrive with her mother, María. When they arrived, however, we realised that Alejandra’s and her mother’s case was very different indeed.

María arrived at Casa Jackson aged just 15 years old, far too young to be a mother. Instead of playing with dolls she has a real life baby to look after. She was accompanied by her grandmother who told us that the father of María’s baby is María’s own stepfather, who had abused María on numerous occasions. María’s mother, instead of protecting her daughter, had decided that she wanted to continue living with her husband and left María and Alejandra in the care of their grandmother.

In Guatemala the abuse and rape of some minors is an all-too-real fact of life. The people who carry out these disgusting actions should rightly be pursued by the law, but unfortunately that often does not come to pass. It was María’s mother who needed to file an official complaint in this case but she decided not to in order to protect her husband. Not only did this leave María unprotected but also meant that other young girls in the area where the family live do not know the risk that they might be under.

María’s grandmother told us that eventually she had filed the complaint with the PGN (Guatemalan Social Services) but was yet to hear a response. Asociación Nuestros Ahijados will be taking on the case through our legal department to pursue the people involved to the full extent of the law. We will continue to work for the most vulnerable members of our Guatemalan society and do our all to protect the children who are most at-risk.

The GOD’S CHILD Project and ITEMP have been working for 30 years to break the chains of poverty and slavery through education, housing and healthcare as well as direct intervention. Please click the link below to donate to support us in our ongoing mission.

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2-year-old Darlyn arrived at Casa Jackson, our Hospital for Malnourished Children, at 11pm on a Friday night after being brought to us by the PGN (Guatemalan Social Services). Her arrival was a complete surprise to us as we had had no warning in advance, but Darlyn’s situation was dire enough for us to know that we had to take her in and help her get better.

When Darlyn arrived at Casa Jackson she was severely malnourished. She weighed just 16 lbs. and 2 oz. and showed clinical signs of long-term malnutrition. We had very little information about Darlyn or her family, and had to collaborate with the PGN to gather detailsabout her life.

At first, many of the staff and volunteers felt extremely sorry for Darlyn and the fact that she was here with us, alone. Little did we know that her arrival at Casa Jackson was a blessing.

We discoveredfrom discussions with the PGN and Judge in charge of her case that Darlyn’s mother had left home at 13 to join a gang and was just 14 years old when she became pregnant. The father was a member of the gang that Darlyn’s mother was a part of, and the ‘relationship’ that Darlyn’s parents had was questionable at best. Whilst pregnant and after giving birth, Darlyn’s mother continued to be a part of the gang and committed a number of offences including extorsion and robbery, eventually leading to her arrest and imprisonment aged just 17 years old.

Darlyn was removed from the gang life and brought to us by the PGN. Some of her behaviours indicate that Darlyn has seen and experienced things that no child should ever have to witness.

Since Darlyn has been at Casa Jackson, her grandmother has reached out on a number of occasions to try and take custody of her. This will not happen, however, as her grandmother’s care pushed Darlyn’s mother into the life she currently has.

Since her arrival at Casa Jackson, Darlyn has gained 1 lb. 10 oz. or 10% of her initial weight and is looking much better. She still has a way to go, however, before she will be ready to leave. We are looking into where she will live when she leaves so that Darlyn can escape the gang life that she was born into. We hope that this new start will be everything that Darlyn needs to live the life she deserves.

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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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The last time we wrote about Sandra, she was recuperating with us in our Casa Jackson Hospital for Malnourished Children from a life of neglect and modern-day slavery. She came to us just under a year ago, referred by Guatemala Social Services. She was scared, timid, and without a shred of confidence, scarred by horrible mistreatment. Though 18 years old, she had the height, weight, and appearance of a little girl due to chronic malnutrition and neglect.

The daughter of a father who passed away too soon and an alcoholic mother not fit to take care of her, Sandra was sent to live with a family who the mother trusted. This family treated Sandra like a servant, expecting her to clean and take care of the house without including her in meals. Most of the time, Sandra would not be given anything to eat at all until late at night, and even when she was, it was nothing more than a couple of tortillas. Sandra was also the victim of physical abuse, sometimes being hit when she asked for food. Even when she wanted to leave to go search for her own food, the family did not let her leave.

One day a few weeks back, two of Sandra’s relatives knocked on our doors inquiring about her well-being. She had been with us for just about a year, yet this was the first time since Sandra entered Casa Jackson that anyone came looking for her. We found this to be strange, so we verified the identity of the relatives and then asked them what is was they wanted. They arrived hoping to take Sandra back to live with them. So, then we brought Sandra over to meet them. Her eyes moved in many directions upon seeing them, bringing back a flood of painful memories. After that, we spoke with Sandra in private and asked if she wanted to live with them or go her own way now that she was an adult. She told us that she never wanted to go back to that place.

From that point on, we worked with PGN and found a suitable foster parent for Sandra. We have been in communication with her foster family and they intend to enroll Sandra in school so she can catch up to her peers educationally. Sandra is also receiving firefighter training, as her foster guardian is one in Antigua. She is learning quickly and enjoying the training very much.

In a short time, Sandra has undergone tremendous changes; not only physically but emotionally as well. Her self-confidence has grown by leaps and bounds once she finally started to receive the love and care a young girl deserves. We are forever grateful that she found her way to us and did not end up in the streets in a very vulnerable situation. Her future looks bright, and she is forging her own path to get there.

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At the GOD’S CHILD Project, a primary way we combat slavery and human trafficking is by preventing it. Prevention comes in many forms: education, housing, home visits, food distribution, and healthcare to name a few.

When a child can receive an education, he/she is in a classroom with other students instead of potentially out in the streets alone selling candy to adult strangers. When a new home is built, a child may go from a house with three walls and no lock on the door to a four-walled, secure place to do homework and sleep. Our social workers regularly visit the homes of children in our programs to make sure everything is alright and they are not in the way of danger. We talk to the parents and the kids about their every day life and what they do to keep busy. If we find out a little boy or girl is out in the streets unsupervised, selling items or shining shoes, we take it upon ourselves to talk sternly with the parents about the dangers of such things. Our weekly distribution of vegetables, fruit, and grains ensures there will be food in the house for the families to eat, and that the children won’t have to be exposed in the streets begging or selling items to buy their next meal.

Providing accessibility to health care, clinics, and medicine is another way we try to take our children out of harm’s way. Children with disabilities, impairments, and chronic conditions can be very vulnerable to becoming a victim of modern-day slavery or human trafficking.

Dina is a bright, young 11-year-old girl who suffers from epilepsy. On any given day, Dina suffers through several seizures and convulsions in her house and out in public. These episodes are debilitating for her and cause her to completely lose her sense of awareness. Sometimes they last for several minutes. Even worse, her family does not have the money to afford the medication to treat her condition. Imagine if one day Dina’s mother asked her to pick something up at the little store down the street, and on the way there she has a seizure. A stranger stops to see if she is okay, but actually has ulterior motives of selling her to human traffickers.

Dora is an 18-year-old girl who attends our Scheel Center school. She fell behind in her education due to a hearing impairment she was born with that her family did not discover until she was three years old. For much of her early life she went without hearing aids because her family could not afford the ear pieces or batteries. Dora’s hearing condition leaves her exposed to the risk of falling into the hands of the wrong people on the street.

Thanks to the GOD’S CHILD Project, both Dina and Dora now have the support that they desperately needed. We make sure Dina has the medicine to treat her epilepsy and that Dora has batteries for her hearing aids. In this way, we are protecting the sanctity of their lives and giving them the hope for a brighter future.

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The GOD'S CHILD Project

Location: Bismarck, ND - USA
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Project Leader:
RINA LAZO
Director of Benefactor Services
Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepequez Guatemala
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