Guatemala (MNN) — Many reports have indicated that Guatemala has become a hub for human trafficking. What may be less known, however, is that domestic abuse in the country is also extremely widespread.
Corbey Dukes with Kids Alive International says it's hard to get an accurate number on how many people–especially young girls–suffer from domestic abuse in the country. But what we do know are a lot of the causes. "Poverty, desperation, loss of hope, and absolutely a lack of Christ in homes leads to abuse," says Dukes.
Kids Alive is working hard to counteract this serious concern, though, namely with a ministry known as The Oasis.
The Oasis is a home for girls, all of whom have been physically or sexually abused. Some have been forced into child labor, and almost all have been abused at home. Most enter the home around four to seven years old.
The girls are understandably traumatized when they arrive at The Oasis. "They've been violated by the person who God intended to be a loving role model. Even if Mom or Dad weren't the perpetrator for the abuse, they were allowing it to take place." Dukes goes on to explain that each of these girls has then been ripped from the only homes they've ever known by police and taken to The Oasis.
At first arrival, girls are prayed over and physically cleaned, but the healing process is slow. "They have no reason to trust anybody," explains Dukes, who says trusting men can be especially difficult. As a consequence, men at The Oasis never approach any child until a child approaches them, which can sometimes take months.
The healing process includes living in a situation similar to foster care, with 10 or fewer girls in a house with one house mother. There are currently six houses. The Oasis takes care of the girls' school tuition, provides therapy, and most importantly, offers the love of Christ.
As girls go enter into Christ's arms, they go through several stages, including coming face-to-face with the question, "Why me?" Many of them, however, are also able to come to the point where they not only accept where God's placed them but forgive the ones who landed them there.
"There's just no better model of the Gospel [than] for a child who's been given the worst to say they want the best for their abuser." And yet these kinds of testimonies are spoken frequently at The Oasis.
Some girls are able eventually to reunite with their families, but most live at The Oasis until they are 18. They can then get involved in a Kids Alive program to help them move onto the next step and break the cycle of domestic abuse in Guatemala.
In order for The Oasis to help so many girls, prayer and financial support are both a must. The program has expanded significantly over the past few years, so sponsorships are needed for some girls. You can also help by going to Guatemala and serving the girls directly. Or you can simply make a one-time gift to The Oasis by clicking here.
However you choose to help, Dukes asks that you pray for The Oasis and programs like it across the globe. Beyond prayer, he urges you to do all you can to stop the problem–be it in Guatemala, the U.S. or elsewhere.
"The Christian community cannot stay silent about abuse, because when somebody's abusing a kid, Jesus says, ‘It's as if they're abusing Me.'"