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In October 2015, I visited Kids Alive International’s programs in Guatemala where I witnessed firsthand some amazing transformations taking place in the lives of the children in our care. This post offers a glimpse into this exciting and innovative ministry…
Beaming smiles. Happy voices. Joyful laughter.
These things are in abundance among the 61 girls at “The Oasis”. And this is remarkable given what these girls have endured.
Most of these girls have been subjected to appalling sexual abuse – including kidnapping, prostitution and child pornography. Several girls, as young as 13 years of age, are caring for babies as a result of rape. All of them came to the Oasis bearing deep emotional scars. Many had learning difficulties. And, statistically, children that have been abused are at greater risk of alcoholism, depression and suicide, risky sexual behavior, and other behavioral issues.
The Oasis tackles these challenges head-on, addressing the girls need for redemption, justice and reconciliation. The Oasis is a safe family-style home where each girl is cared for by loving caregivers and provided with counselling, health care, quality education, and the good news of the Gospel. The goal of The Oasis is to provide the vital emotional, educational and spiritual healing that each girl so desperately needs.
The Oasis also seeks justice for these girls, working with the Guatemalan authorities and another non-profit, International Justice Mission, to seek arrest warrants for the abusers, give support for investigations into allegations of abuse, pursue prosecutions of abusers through the courts, and provide training to government groups and other organizations. Currently The Oasis has 40 open and active criminal cases. Securing a conviction means that the girl must testify against the accuser, and The Oasis social workers prepare them effectively for this. “I am David” said one girl as she walked into court to testify against the “giant” that had abused her. Within hours her abuser was behind bars.
The Oasis is also dedicated to returning strong young ladies into Guatemalan society to be lights in their homes, their communities and their churches. Wherever possible, they seek to reconcile and restore girls with their families, through our “Families Together” program. This includes providing healing for the girls’ mothers, many of whom have deep spiritual wounds, and helping them generate an income through micro-enterprise activities, such as making and selling tortillas. Once the girl returns home, the family is provided with ongoing help, including educational and spiritual support. I made a home visit with The Oasis social worker and was highly impressed with the close bond that clearly existed between her and the family. “Before The Oasis, I never had a family”, one mother commented.
The Oasis is unique in Guatemala in terms of the services it provides. And the results are impressive. Girls are getting school grades that no-one ever thought would be possible. Most of the single mothers engaged in micro-enterprise activities have seen significant increases in their family income. Last year, 21 girls were baptized and their faces gave evidence to the healing process underway in their lives. “I am the happiest I have ever been” one 14-year-old said.
During this visit, it was humbling to join these girls for a time of worship one evening and see God’s presence at work in their lives. I also met the resilient young lady that my family has the privilege of sponsoring, along with her baby. And I enjoyed spending time with the amazing Guatemalan staff and missionaries who are so committed to seeing the lives of these girls transformed.
Enjoy seeing the smiles, happy voices and laughter in this video, put together recently by an intern at the Oasis:
Do keep these girls, and our excellent leadership and staff team, in your prayers. And please partner with Kids Alive in seeking justice for the girls of Guatemala!