Thursday was a rough day in this country. With tears running down my face, I wanted to write and share with you what happened. I woke Thursday morning unaware of what took place overnight and into the morning. Here in Guatemala, there are private children's homes, and there are government ran children's homes. Private children's home tend to offer a higher quality of care, due to outside financing, which we all know is not easy to come by. Government ran homes tend to be overcrowded and understaffed with poor living conditions due to poor government funding. Children are forced into government ran homes due to a lack of private homes and foster care/adoption. There are various reasons for this, which is another story for another day.
The Virgen de Asuncion children's home just outside of Guatemala City is a government ran home.
This home has been in the news recently due to poor living conditions, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. This home was equipped to hold 300 children. It is said that nearly 900 were living within its walls. The original story that came out on Thursday morning stated that overnight, the children had enough. A riot broke out within the home, and the children set the home ablaze in protest to the conditions they were being forced to live in. During the fire, over 60 children were able to evade the security guards and escape from the home. The fire quickly spread and took the lives of 19 young girls, between the ages of 14-17. Over 30 children are suffering from severe to life-threatening burns.
Today, Sunday, the death toll is up to 40 with 4 more still in critical condition. The government is under heavy criticism as it allowed something like this to happen, and many are even saying it was the government itself that did this. It is said that the young girls where locked into the room where the fire broke out. This specific home has been temporarily shut down, and most children have been moved to another government ran home. The situation is far more complicated than it sounds, as there are multiple government entities that are responsible for private and government ran children's homes.
Ultimately, the story is tragic no matter how it is looked at.
Surely we can help, and surely we are going to do everything that we can to help. This blog however is not so much about how we are going to help though. This blog is more so about how we should all be helping. Not just helping here in Guatemala, but helping right outside your front door.
I remember a month or two ago I was leaving the grocery store with my 3-year-old. We took an elevator down into the parking garage. Lucy loves elevators, and sometimes gets distracted by the sheer fun they can be. We reached the parking garage and the doors opened, I began walking out the doors with Lucy when she realized her sticker had fallen off her shirt in the elevator. Instead of walking out of the elevator, she turned back to pick up her sticker. At that point, the doors began to close. She noticed, and I noticed. I was able to stick my foot in between the doors to open them back up before they came to a complete close. The damage had already been done though. The thought of getting stuck alone, in an unfamiliar environment, with zero control, wrecked my little girl. She bolted into my arms and began crying uncontrollably.
Later that night as I lay in bed I thought about how many children around me live that experience every single day. In Guatemala, they could go from children's home to children's home. They could have a new caretaker every week. They can be abused behind closed doors regularly. In the United States, they can go from foster home to foster home. They can have people pretending to care, but only to receive a paycheck from the government. They too, can face abuse daily behind closed doors.
Unacceptable. And yet so many tolerate it.
It is time to stop tolerating it, and to start taking action against it.
This blog is a plead to you all, to fight for the children who have no one fighting for them. There are so many ways this can be done, but it starts by using your voice.
I don't know everything about this topic, but I promise you I can point you to someone who does. If you have any questions about how you can help children who have no one, please reach out to someone. If you have no one to reach out to, please reach out to me.
Because of Jesus,
We have been blessed and overwhelmed by the amount of people that have contacted us wanting to help. Currently, the most logical and practical way to help apart from prayers is to help provide for needed items of children who have been moved to homes that may not have the needed resources to care. We are accepting financial donations to purchase some of those items needed through our website. However, it is very important that you send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the amount donated towards this specific cause so we can be sure to allocate your donation. Thank you for understanding.