The only news in Guatemala for the past two weeks has been the deaths of some 40 girls at a government orphanage in the city. The country is in an uproar; students are marching in the streets; and the president has declared three days of mourning while the marching masses demand that he resign. Typical third world.
Unlike most private orphanages the government orphanages are often referred to as an anteroom to hell. This one was overcrowded to an extreme with 800 kids were 400 were intended. Short on money and resources it had persistent rumors of both physical and sexual abuse. On March 7th sixty plus children went over the wall and escaped. Many were brought back. The girls were locked in a small room and soon a fire started. Despite the presence of many adults no one opened the door and currently there are 40 dead and many others with severe burns. It’s becoming a national scandal but not news to anyone who has had any experience with “the System” in Guatemala.
Courts in Guatemala are mandated to send children back to the home in all but the most abusive situations. There is no foster care system in Guatemala and if it were not for the many private hogars like ours, there would be no salvation at all for the abused and homeless of this country.
We have contacted the authorities and reminded them that we have space at our home. We have even offered to flex and take children that would not normally fit our profile. But we have to be careful because this particular hogar had older delinquent children from the court system—some involved with trafficking—as well as orphans. Our first responsibility is for the safety of the children we already have.
Please pray as we search for qualified staff and open our doors wider. We are starting to get calls about taking some of these children. If you or someone you know would like to do volunteer work at the hogar on a long term basis, please let us know. And again, please pray for guidance.