Care center gives hope to Guatemala’s youth

By August 31, 2009

Guatemala (MNN) — UNICEF reports almost half of Guatemala's children are chronically malnourished–the sixth-worst performance in the world. That, coupled with abuse and neglect, and Guatemala's children are facing a hopeless future. 

Many survive on 50 cents a day. That doesn't go very far. Kids Alive International is doing their part to help. 

Kids Alive Guatemala Field Director Corbey Dukes, speaking from Guatemala, says they've established the Zapote Care Center in an agricultural district just outside Guatemala City. "We have very intentionally partnered with a local Guatemalan church because we can provide an education and nutrition. But to make an impact into these children's lives and to transform the village takes discipleship."

Kids Alive's program with the local church is the vehicle that changes that.

The care center started as a preschool but now goes through the second grade. They provide breakfast and lunch to about 70 children. "When we started out," says Dukes, "we were only providing lunch. We had some children literally passing out from hunger, particularly on Monday, because they hadn't eaten since their lunch with us on Friday."

It's a Christian-based education, says Dukes, and they've seen incredible results. "In just a couple of years, we have started to see some very hardened hearts soften as the Gospel has begun to penetrate children's lives. Through the children, the impact spreads to the school and the church, into the lives of the families."

The goal of Kids Alive is for these kids to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Dukes says, "When they leave that school, no matter what the economic condition is in their home, their homes can be known as homes of peace instead of abuse, and they can be salt and light and can be encouraging one another, sharing burdens and transforming their village."

Construction is underway to be able to accomodate 200 students. Duke says, "Often it's easy to build a building, and that's what we've found. But we have to dramatically increase our child sponsorships in order to put seats in the desks. What's going to kill me is walking into this new building and seeing empty classrooms when I'm walking by children on the street."

$35 a month can sponsor a child who is typically malnourished and open to the Gospel. You can help. Just click here.

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