Xela, Guatemala is filled with street children selling small candies or chicle for one quetzal. Most of these small children won’t easily tell you their story and will hide or run away if someone shows too much interest. They often band together in groups for warmth and protection, and one of these groups has caught our attention. Two of the boys in this group are brothers, and they still “live” with their mother, as do the other children in this group. During the rainy summer season, one boy became so sick from being cold and wet and undernourished that he died. That’s when the mother sought out an empty shack on the steep mountain slopes and convinced the owner to let them stay there so they could at least sleep out of the rain. They are not allowed to stay there during the day, only at night.
This one mother, homeless and without enough food to feed her own children, is caring for who knows how many children in this group (we met seven of them, but they said there were more). We can’t help all the street children in Xela, but we decided to start with this group. The seven children we spoke to became very excited when we told them we could provide them the required uniforms and books if they want to attend school. What we didn’t tell them (because we want a yearning for an education to be their motivation) is that we also want to feed them two meals a day to make up for their lost income and ensure they will be able to focus in school.
This will be our first foray into a combined feeding and education program for homeless orphans living on the streets of Xela. We are starting small, but if we have success with this one group, we hope to expand to include other children in the future. We are offering a 2:1 donation match to get this program off the ground.