Guatemala (MNN) — Sometimes change comes in large movements and grand beginnings. Other times, change comes with simplest of starts.
A lot of work had already been done to provide education for the children, and clean stoves and water filters were installed in homes once filled with the choking smoke of open fires. But the women dreamed of a community care program that would provide more extensive support.
Orphan Outreach began its work in Chimaltenango because of the town’s unique struggles, and because of the isolation of many families who find their life and livelihood at a place called the Ravine – a city dump.
“Chimaltenango has a lot of churches, but it’s also known for a lot of things that aren’t so good like gangs, drugs, prostitution,” shares Dan Ucherek, who oversees the Community Care Center, Orphan Outreach’s newest ministry.
“About half the families we’re serving work in the garbage dump, and the other half of the families are at the same poverty level as those working at the dump. There’s such a need to connect the local churches to the families we’re working with.”
Grocery distribution and the installation of clean stoves remains a priority of the work being done in Chimaltenango, and is now part of a new expanded community care model. Ucherek says, “Last year we installed 26 stoves in the community, and then this year we’re going to do 46 stoves and water filters.”
The Community Care Center is a dream come true for Orphan Outreach and the members of WOW. Ucherek shares, “We had been working in this community for about five years, and we saw the need to prevent orphans, keep families together, and help families grow in Christ and also be able to thrive where they’re living.”
Programs at the Community Care Center are set to begin later this summer, offering tutoring, workshops, and other resources to children and their families. A crisis relief center and library have been provided by the members of WOW. Special activities are planned throughout the summer to introduce the center to those who will benefit from the full scope of services.
The Gospel is at the heart of what is being done in Chimaltenango through Orphan Outreach. Dan says engaging the local church is a priority, and he and his team are working “in congregations and [with] pastors to mentor these families, provide training for them – even marital training and conferences.”
Dan invites individuals to participate in the new Orphan Outreach program in two ways.
“Pray that God will just give us guidance on how to best serve these families – and you can come on a mission trip and personally meet these people, and allow God to use them to change your life.”