The 2015 trip was soooo sooo busy and full of work and happiness ( and some interesting stuff, will get to that later) that the blog couldn’t be updated during the trip. And also for the fact that the hotel internet was hacked and the kids were hogging the hotel computer….
We had a smaller group this year – 5 teenagers, 3 kids, and 12 adults – which made the bus ride a little less crowded and with just a few less bags. We still provided over 20 suitcases of items for four facilities: God Bless the Children in Guatemala City, Hogar San Jeronimo in Chimaltenango, Opal House on Lake Atitlan, and Hogar San Emiliani in Guatemala City.
A HUGE Thank YOU to everyone who donated clothing, toys and medicines, and those who donated money as we found out more about the real needs of these facilities and hope to provide some money for projects for them.
We arrived Friday and Saturday on a warm, dry June weekend in Guatemala CIty. We went from the airport and picked up the older kids at God Bless the Children and took them to the city zoo. I was a little worried we would be outnumbered by all the toddlers but three of the helpers at the orphanage went along to assist us 4 adults with the roundup. Later the rest of the crew came from the airport and made it JUST IN TIME for Pollo Campero fried chicken with the kids.
We were joined by Jackie and Trish’s cousin Martine who was appropriately dressed as Jungle Martine and thankfully he knew the best things to see and led our motley group of bewildered adults and kids jacked up on Pepsi through the maze that is the Guatemala Zoo.
Believe it or not, this was a lovely, clean zoo with great habitats.
After about 90 minutes, we were getting some cranky pants children so we headed back to the orphanage. Within minutes they were blissfully asleep on the bus!
This is Josue (pronounced Hose sway) and David. They are about 18 months old and are twin brothers and are on their second stay at God Bless the Children. When they were born they BOTH had the same heart condition that needed some serious surgery. Their parents couldn’t afford the care so gave them up and the city court placed them at God Bless. David and Cynthia, the operators of the facility (both are lawyers – Cynthia is an adoption attorney who gave up her practice when they shut down international adoptions in 2008) worked with cardiologists and were able to get the twins the surgery needed to repair their hearts. Josue and David did great – they both have the same exact scar on their chest from the surgery and were thriving at the orphanage. Their parents found out that they were healthy and went to court and demanded their children back and the court turned them back over to their parents. Who, by the way, are alcoholics and street beggars. Guatemalan courts still want parents to care for their children like many courts do but are overwhelmed with cases.
A few months later, one of the employees of God Bless saw these parents on the street begging using Josue and David as part of their way to get money. They were underweight and hungry. God Bless went back to court and was able to convince them to take the children out of the parents care and put them back at the orphanage. The parents gave up without a fight. They are doing well, David is a charmer, Josue has a harder time with strangers but they are both coming along.
Unfortunately, Guatemala doesn’t have quite the adoption culture we do as Americans or those do in other parts of the world. One cause is the amount of poor in the country, a country with little or no middle class. There is some talk of adoptions opening up after 2016 for special needs children. Guatemala does not provide any financial assistance to private and church run orphanages, only the few that they have which sometimes house upwards to 700 children at a time.
UNICEF estimates that there are more than 370,000 orphans in Guatemala and at least 5,000 children live on the streets of the capital, abandoned by mothers who are too poor to keep them. In addition, the HIV/AIDS epidemic appears to be growing rapidly. Here is a very good article from the Wall Street Journal on the orphan crisis in Guatemala.
We brought along a huge supply of diapers, Enfamil, and other items for God Bless – they are at capacity with 23 children which includes 6 infants. A few days later we came back to paint furniture and walls and feed babies.
Watch daily for stories on the children and caregivers we met on our mission!
To help go to Mike’s Angels page.
Tomorrow, meet Victor and Sharon!