Guatemala (MNN) — Guatemala is not what you would call a “friend to children.” On the streets, hundreds of children are abducted and murdered or trafficked each month. In the home, there doesn’t seem to be much of a sanctuary, either, as kids are often abused physically and sexually.
The fear of violence has led to a spike in illegal immigration to Mexico and North America among unaccompanied minors in the last two months. In the last week alone, hundreds of teenagers from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have sought refuge in Texas.
It looks like the numbers will continue to grow in America since the government is responsible for children until they’re united with a relative or sponsor in the states.
But, Mexico has cracked the whip, sending a number of immigrant children back to their home countries.
One girl deported from Mexico back to Guatemala was fortunate enough to not be forced back into the violence that had surrounded her before. Instead she found sanctuary in the Association of Children’s Homes in Guatemala (AsoCriGua) — a Kids Alive International partner which is becoming known as the best care provider in the nation.
Kids Alive’s Corbey Dukes works with the group and says their primary goal is to protect children and improve the system. “We work within the network of children’s homes in Guatemala to improve standards of care and to make sure kids are being not just treated fairly, but are receiving all the therapy, all the discipleship, and the standards of children’s homes are high,” Dukes explains.
Six years ago, AsoCriGua was formed after Christian homes initially came together for prayer. Now, more than 1,000 children are being supported, encouraged, and ministered to in the AsoCriGua homes.
And even more kids outside the homes are benefitting from the group’s efforts because “we are also working with Guatemalan government agencies in trying to improve the overall system of child protection and child custody within the country.”
Currently, AsoCriGua represents about 20% of all children in Guatemala’s protective custody, and they couldn’t do it on their own. “No single home can really make a country wide impact,” Dukes says.
Instead, the Association is made up of 15 Christian homes working to bring forth excellence that honors God.
To keep that excellence going and standards high for children in the country’s system, the group is hoping to expand the number of homes involved with the Association, discuss with the government how they can partner with resources, and develope a trauma training series.
This new year, AsoCriGua hopes to see the trauma training series come to life. “We’re going to be having some specialized training for all of our homes and trauma therapy for children, because basically no child ends up in protective custody in a Christian home in Guatemala who hasn’t experienced trauma.” Dukes says the Association hopes this will enable them to be a more powerful healing force.
AsoCriGua wants to continue their protection, ministry, and healing so children can grow and be prepared for a life built on Jesus. Consider partnering with them through prayer or financial support.