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.