Nearly two years ago, I joined up with a church group from Frisco to head down to Guatemala for a week. The goal was to build houses for three families in need. The result was three houses built but so much more! Little did I know how this trip would impact my life and the life of my family. I had been involved with many nonprofits and charitable organizations before, but none touched my heart like this one.
The God’s Child Dreamer Center in Antigua embodies peace among discord, a spot of beauty in the middle of pollution-filled, busy streets. The main center contains a school, a dining area, a hospital for malnourished infants, a chapel, and is a place for children to go to find a future. The majority of the children here would have no education, no healthcare, no steady source of food and no hope without the great work of the Asociación Nuestros Ahijados.
I enjoyed that first trip more than words can express.
We worked side by side with the family whose future home we were constructing. When we weren’t building the homes, we were playing with the kids in the schoolyard. I didn’t speak much Spanish then, but Uno translates very well! I also was able to spend some time playing with the toddlers in the Casa Jackson Hospital. One of my favorite pictures was taken there (see pic of me and a sweet little girl).
I enjoyed meeting and playing with all the children at the center, but I also began to forge friendships that would end up lasting longer than I ever knew. Since my first trip, I have kept in touch with many of the workers at the center. One of those people is Henio (see pic). He is one of the most kind and caring people I have met. And he is a success story from the project! He came in off the streets as a young boy and made a future for himself. He returned years later to work for the project that saved his life and now works as a social worker for the center. His is a remarkable story. I can send you an article on his story if you want to read more.
Needless to say, I was very impressed with the project and people. I was, and still am, impressed with the level of organization, the use of resources, the mission and the results. I enjoyed the work so much, I took my entire family (six of us) back eight months later. We were also able to take a few friends. Together, we built another two houses. The house my family built was for another great family- Rosa y Rudy (see pic of Rosa and their baby boy). I still message them and have even had the opportunity to try out my Spanish in some video calls. (It is getting slowly better in case you were wondering.)
I returned again with the church group in January and continued to build houses and relationships. I attached a picture of that team, family and home. More than that, I have continued to build my understanding. I better understand the people, the culture, the concerns, the differences and more importantly the similarities. I hope to get back at least yearly, notwithstanding any pandemics.
If you have made it this far, thanks! And I hope you will consider donating to this great cause. Donations are down but needs are WAY up in this pandemic. No tourism means no income for a people who already mostly live hand to mouth. Please reach out if you have any questions about my experience. Here is a little info about the impact of the project.
o The average hospital child-patient at Casa Jackson Hospital for Malnourished Children gains an additional 21% body weight within two months of entering Casa Jackson.
o The Bob and Joan Scheel School for Academic Excellence, and the Dreamer Center School, have capacity to educate 750 children and teenagers each day.
o Since its founding, The GOD’S CHILD Project has built 1,472 houses for extremely poor Guatemalan families.
o A GOD’S CHILD Project ServiceTeam builds a house in 3 days that will last a poor family for 40 years.
o In addition to building houses, GOD’S CHILD Project Service Teams provide clean water filters and systems, medical and dental field clinics, emergency disaster relief, and dozens of other core services.
o During COVID-19, The GOD’S CHILD Project has been the main source of nutrition to hundreds of needy Guatemalan families, through the distribution of tens of thousands of pounds of donated fruits, vegetables, and supplies.
o Since its founding in 1991, The GOD’S CHILD Project has raised and educated over 80,000 children in Guatemala, with additional children, families, and communities assisted in El Salvador, Malawi Africa, India, and the United States.
Here is the website for the project. https://godschild.org/