Guatemala (MNN) — Thousands of kids are in great need in Guatemala City. Poverty prevents many children from getting the nutrition they need to lead healthy lives. Many are have worms, diarrhea, and stunted growth. The mayor's wife is doing something about it, but she needs help.
Many adults earn a living by street vending. Since they aren't able to afford childcare, their children go with them. Patricia Arzu says that's not safe and not healthy, so she's made child welfare a top priority. But it's more than child welfare: it's a program that has a child's eternity in mind. She established childcare drop off centers.
Each day parents drop off their kids at the center where they get a morning and afternoon snack and a well-balanced lunch. These children are also evaluated for their nutritional status. Based on that, a diet is followed for each malnourished child.
While physical needs are important, Arzu says so is knowing God. She says that's why volunteers, "Give them a Bible lesson every week. They are changing their lives. Jesus Christ is making a change in their lives and we are seeing it and that's what keeps us going."
While they have plenty of volunteers there's one thing they're lacking. Arzu says, "What we need is resources. And, money to buy the three meals that we give, pay the teachers, pay the rent on the houses. If we had more income we could have more children because there are more children on the streets."
Orphan Outreach is coming along side programs like Mrs. Arzu's. While the programs are supported by the city, OO's Tiffany Taylor says not everything is covered. "The vitamin drinks that they needed and the wonderful programs they have implemented to help these children, that money is not provided for in the budget of the city. And so, Orphan Outreach is coming along side Mrs. Arzu and we need individuals to come forward who want to help financially support the programs here in Guatemala."
Arzu has been receiving criticism for allowing Christian outreach inside the centers and schools. Her response? "I don't care, really, about all the persecution that we receive. This is the Lord's program, so he's protecting us."
The Mission Network News/91.3 WCSG Guatemala team was able to spend time with children at the child care center where they played games, made crafts and more importantly heard the Gospel.