Life does not have a filter. It is raw, real and sometimes downright heartbreaking. However, life springs to new hope when we rise to meet new challenges and seek to overcome. Come on a journey of discovery, hope and a realization that life is better without the filter.
Why should I help children in other countries? (Don’t we have enough children here that need our help?)
I have heard this sentiment many times and it is true there are many people that need our help in our own communities. The simple answer to this question is yes. Yes, there are hundreds of kids in our communities that need our help. We can start in our communities and make a difference. Many of us, me included, find it easier to identify a problem than become part of the solution. If we see that the problem is bigger than our capacity to fix it, we often shrink back into apathy and hopelessness. A very wise friend of mine once told me, “It all starts with loving the one in front of you.” For me that is my family, then it is my neighbours, my community and then it grows until the world is the one person in front of you.
Although we may not change the whole world we all have the power to change a life. Focus on the people you come in contact with everyday and be a positive, loving influence in their lives. It can be as simple as a smile, or saying hello or visiting a lonely relative. Each expression of love will expand the perimeters of your heart, then your heart will no longer recognize all these man made borders. You will only see the beauty and potential in your fellow man.
How would that feel? I believe we would see our own personal insecurities and fears diminish as we purpose to help each other. We would learn that we are all in need of something; sometimes we will be the giver and other times the receiver. Compassion is a shared experience among equals. We recognize that we are all fragile and vulnerable. It could easily be us walking in the other person’s place.
Compassion says, “If that were me, how would I want to be treated?”
Who holds the key to unlocking healthy communities? The government, the rich, big businesses, a healthy economy? In reality, the answer is not them, it is you and me. Don’t wait for someone else to do what you can do. Even if your first attempt is clumsy and inconsequential, pursue the goal of making the world a better place. Many people are looking for a spotlight to dispel the darkness that permeates our communities; a big answer, or solution from someone more qualified. I believe the darkness is overcome as each one ignites their own light. What if every street light went off in a community and it was very black and hard to navigate the streets. All it takes is one person to realize, hey I have a flashlight and another person would see that light and say I have one as well. This domino effect of good is what we need today. Be a light and shine so others want to join you in being a solution.
The question should not be, “Don’t we have enough children that need our help?”, but, “Don’t we have enough people to help others.”
Greater are the number of those who can make a difference than those who need the help. Help someone today!
"If you believe the purpose of life is to serve yourself, then you have no purpose.
Go help someone today! - Paul Blart- (Mall Cop 2)
Hi my name is Zacarias and I am four years old. I live with my mom and dad in a tin shack by a very busy highway. I love to hear the transport trucks zoom by. My older brother Rolando (7 years old) and I play a game and try to guess which vehicle went by just by the sound it makes. My mom and dad are very sad because they do not have enough food to give to my older brother, sister and me. We go to the river everyday to get water to drink and try to catch fish. Sometimes my parents leave us at home as they search for work and the neighbors watch us.
My older brother Rolando is different. He is bigger than me but cannot communicate and some times he gets so mad he throws things and screams. I love him but I can’t help him and this makes me feel sad. I am so hungry and weak I find it hard to walk and talk. Our sister Ana (6 years old) takes good care of us. She understands Rolando’s way of talking and she can calm him down with her caring voice.
Our parents have been away a lot lately and I can’t remember when we ate last. It gets cold at night and I am scared when we are alone until very late. I try to stay awake but I cannot. I cannot even lift myself up to walk any more. I hear my parents whispering when they come in and I try to understand what they are saying. My eyes are too heavy and my stomach is so sore, I finally fall asleep.
The next morning a man in a blue vest comes to our door and tells our parents that we have to go with him. They cry and tell him that he cannot take us. They say they will find work soon and everything will be okay. He says that he is here to help and we must go with him. We see the policemen as well and they take us by the hand and put us in the truck. We have heard the sound of the police truck before driving down the highway behind our home. I look back and see the tears run down my mother’s face and then we leave.
We are bought to a big blue house full of loud, laughing children playing in the yard. The ladies look like the women who live near our home and they give us a hug. My body hurts to be touched but I am too weak to say so. They bring us to a quiet room away from the sound of the other children.
Ana asks, “Donde estamos?” (Where are we?)
The stranger explains that we are in a children’s home and that we are safe. She says we will stay here until we get better and that the Tias (aunties/caregivers) will take care of us. They give us brand new clothes after we have a much needed bath. I can’t remember the last time we bathed in the river. Then we have some food. It hurts my tummy to eat but I am too afraid to say anything. I feel to weak to talk. All I remember after this is falling asleep at the table.
We wake up in a strange room. I feel happy that I am with Ana and Rolando. The noise of the children is all I hear. I just want to hear the cars zoom down the highway and the roosters crowing. I want my mom. I wish I had a voice and could tell them I want to go home.
Zacarias, Age 4
This is the story of Zacarias and his two siblings. They arrived our Children’s home in Guatemala in August. Zacarias was one of the most malnourished cases we had seen. He weighed 22 pounds at age four. He was despondent and could not walk or talk beyond a whisper. He had trouble holding up his head. His older siblings were stronger although very malnourished. Rolando was taken to the neurologist and although he was seven years old they said he had the mental age of a three years old. They immediately received all the medical and nutritional help they desperately needed. They slowly adjusted to life in a busy home and made friends with the caregivers and children. Our social worker Rosita worked tirelessly taking Rolando to his specialist appointments in the city two hours away. They got up at 3:00 am to be there for 7:00 am. Rosita completed a full family investigation within two months and found they had an uncle who worked at a military hospital in the city. If they moved in with his wife, mother and their two kids Rolando would be near to the specialist and continue to get the help he needed. These three children have been adopted by their uncle and auntie and are doing well. Zacarias gained four pounds in his three months in the Children’s home. This the desire of Hijos de Dios Children’s Home. We want to see children helped and healed and restored to their families.
Our dream is to build a children’s home that children would come to recover but not stay in permanently. After working with children in children’s homes since 2009 we have come to realize that the deep rooted dream of children is to have a family. They want to go home. Our desire is to make this dream come true.
Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what it would be like to be taken away from your family and brought to live in a place you have never seen before, with people you do not know. It is a very scary process and the children feel overwhelmed, afraid, and uncertain. Even though it was in their best interest to be brought to the home the majority of children hope and pray that their family would “get better” so they can go home.
Our desire is to have a small children’s home of 20 children aged 2 to 7 years old. We want to create a healing environment for them to recuperate from whatever storms they may have faced. With well trained and compassionate staff we are confident that we can nurture and help these kids recover.
That is just one side of the story. The other side is the family. What led these families to lose their children? And with support can they return home? Our trained social worker will do the much needed family investigations to decipher if the biological family or extended family can be a resource for their children. The majority of children’s homes cannot do complete family investigations because they have too many children to investigate each family completely; so they rely on the court social worker’s assessment. These assessments are very general due to the shear number of children that are placed through the court system each year. This is where our unique style of children’s home bridges the gap that the government and larger children’s homes cannot. We are committed to doing an extensive investigation for every family we receive. Exhausting all avenues until we find family members who can take the children.
Once we have found family members who fit the criteria for receiving the children the process of reunification begins. The parents will receive parenting classes and counselling from our psychologist and social worker. They will receive hands on tools they can use to learn how to care for and raise healthy children. We have found that families that have lost contact with their children and are not used to the day to day responsibilities have a much more difficult time assuming responsibility of their children. We believe that even the poorest families have something to give and as they use their abilities to help support their children they regain confidence and self esteem in other areas of their lives.
We realize that not all children will be able to be restored to their families. This is the reason we are choosing to work with younger children that can be placed in adoptive families. Every child deserves a family and we desire to make many dreams come true.