New Home from Gary de León on Vimeo.
Several months ago, our street team, Hector and Emma Perez, came into contact with a distraught mother, living in extreme poverty, with whom they had been working in the past. She began to share that one her children had been terribly abused and she needed help. Hector and Emma contacted several of us in order to come up with an appropriate intervention plan.
We arrived and found their little shack fairly quickly and our team, consisting of Hector and Emma (our street team) as well as Karla (our social worker) and Lucrecia (our psychologist) began to dialogue with the mother. She had five children with two different fathers and lived in a shack the size of a shed (10' x12') behind a Guatemalan city market in a very dangerous slum area called “la terminal.” Her current boyfriend is a 20-year-old drug addict that spends most of the time in the streets on solvents and drugs. He is the father of her two youngest (ages 3 and 5). It is through working with this young man that Hector and Emma came to know this family.
The mother was ready for help this time. Her older two daughters (12 and 14) had been raped in the last several years and she wouldn’t cooperate to take action against these perpetrators, but this incident occurred with her 10-year-old son. He had already told his mother about being abused by a neighbor, but this time, she was ready to act and report the “unthinkable” that happened to her son the day before our team arrived.
An awesome ‘God-story’ piece to this is that our newly hired psychologist, Lucrecia, had been working with the Paz family for the past several years and already had a history with this mother, further helping our chances of convincing her to get help for her son and report this case to the authorities.
We brought the mother and her son to the 'Ministerio Publico' where charges are formally filed in Guatemala City. After 7 hours of lines, forms, exams, interviews, etc. our team walked out successful with proof of the assault as well as a warrant for his arrest! It was just one day later that the police made the capture! Both the warrant for his arrest as well as the capture are HUGE answers to prayers as the government typically doesn't find the proof very easily, not to mention acting on a warrant. Both happened within 24 hours! Only by God’s grace!
Another act of God – International Justice Mission – one of our network partners – agreed to take the case and will be prosecuting the rapist to make sure the family receives justice and this man never acts again.
Gary and Rachel, ARNM team members, helped to relocate the family to an apartment near our main school, also where the counseling offices are located (and still not far from their original home). It is small but bigger and safer than their previous place and costs $53 a month. It also has electricity and plumbing which the other did not.
Being located near our school will allow us to enroll all five of them through our child sponsorship program. The two youngest will be easy but the 10, 12, and 14 year old are all in first grade level. This is difficult as AMG is not equipped to have them in our mainstream classrooms. This is also where God’s sovereign grace has been shown because it has caused us to see some of our weaknesses and look for solutions.
We are excited to report that during the last week of March, we received permission/certification from the Department of Education to formally begin teaching children with special needs and learning problems. This will allow us to not only educate these children but also many more children in the days and months to come! All 5 children are in our main school and we are in the interviewing process to hire the special education teacher. Please pray for the right person.
We were also humbled by His provision through a local church near our school that has committed to pursue the family to get them involved in their church and minister to them through the local body of believers. This is the most sustainable/long-term solution and one of our biggest answers to prayers - open hearts within the local church to go beyond their walls and meet the needs of those within the communities around them.
Lucrecia, our psychologist, has been assigned this case and has begun the long process of restoration for this family. She has the commitment of our entire team as well as the church in assisting her in this long road of recovery for the entire family.
There is so much more to do, but God is allowing us to re-write these children’s stories by giving them hope and a vision for the future by working as a team to bring restoration! Praise God with us in seeing His church in action and please pray for the wisdom, strength and the patience needed to continue bringing eternal hope and healing to this family!!!
By Chad Smith, Director of At Risk No More ~ AMG Guatemala