Guatemala (MNN) — The sound of children’s laughter rings out on a street down the road from the city dump in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Behind iron gates, it’s snack time for almost 40 students who have found refuge in a special program designed by Orphan Outreach.
The Comprehensive Community Center is more than a building in the city wrought with violence, drug wars, and prostitution. It is a ministry that offers holistic support for families struggling to survive.
Rey Diaz is the Executive Director for Orphan Outreach, and he celebrated with the families as a new tutoring program was launched for students in elementary school.
A similar program for middle- and high school students was piloted during the summer, and the results have been promising. “The energy and the excitement in the room was, like, palpable,” he beams. “It was just really exciting to be there on opening day for all these families.”
Education is a significant challenge for the indigent poor in Chimaltenango. Though schools are free, children are not allowed to attend if they don’t have supplies. And helping the family with basic necessities often means school is abandoned.
Diaz shares, “Middle school and high schools are impossibilities for most of these kids, especially young girls. We were looking at some schools we work with outside of the city. At elementary, it’s about a fifty-fifty split. Afterwards, in middle school and high school, girls just drop out at a staggering rate. “
Orphan Outreach mission teams met the families of the Ravine years ago — with shelf-stable groceries and prayer.
The first year, they stood outside the fence. The next year, the families welcomed them inside their lives, and friendships were established between the people who dug through refuse to find sustenance and the people willing to give time, talent, and resources to help.
Today, family preservation is at the heart of Orphan Outreach’s work in Chimaltenango. Needs are addressed, hopes are held high, and dignity is restored. Clean stoves, drip water filtration systems, and home repairs improve living conditions. Medical assistance strengthens bodies and spirits. Diaz says the impact of holistic care for a few families brings hope to an entire community.
“They’re wonderful parents. They love their kids, they’d do anything for their kids – in fact, they’ll work in a garbage dump for their kids. So the fact that they’re able to receive all these blessings – the stove and the clothes and the education and the spiritual development – it just means so much to them. And we believe it’s going to change the cycle that these families have lived in for generations.”
Diaz says the CCC ministry’s primary focus is living out the hope of the Gospel in word and deed.
“Our staff is going to every single home, they visit every home. They’re sharing the Gospel, being a shoulder to cry on, just telling these people they matter, they are created in the image of God. And because of that, that means they have value, they’re important, that Jesus died for them just as much as He died for us.”
There are many ways to join Orphan Outreach in their efforts to care for the families of the Ravine in Chimaltenango.
Mission teams help the families install new stoves, deliver food, and help teachers with lesson plans. Sponsorship of the children is essential to the success of the program as it ensures resources are available.
And Diaz says prayer is key as well. “These are real people, these are kids with names that matter, and if you can take time to pray a few minutes a day for these kids, who knows what God’s going to do through these kids – in their lives and in the families.”
Learn more about Orphan Outreach’s family preservation program at the Comprehensive Care Center, and join the ministry by sponsoring a child.