March was a month to remember, all over the world. The problems with the corona virus affected us in Guatemala and also the Embrace program. We were able to have our first two meetings of the month fine. We had our quarterly birthday party with the children who had their birthdays in the months of January, February and March. Everyone enjoyed some cake and a drink and the birthday kids were sung to, prayed over, given a small toy and a coupon to use at the clinic store. All of our Embrace families received a plastic tub this month and instructions how to use it to disinfect their fruit and vegetables.
One of our Embrace groups (that attended the first week) was selected to receive an “extra blessing”! From the extra special offering that we received at the end of the year; we have shared how that covered our chicken project that we did last month. It is also going to cover two more projects that we are in the process of working through and we still had some funding left over. We decided to use the remaining funds to provide some latrines for families that do not have one. A good percentage of our families just use “the weeds” for their bathroom needs and a latrine is certainly a way to improve the level of their hygiene. We are able to cover 17 families from the villages of Le La Obraje, Oquen and Los Vados. This covers all of the families in this particular group (1 out of 5 groups) that did not have a family latrine. What a blessing! Our project coordinator talked with the families and is visiting them, one by one, to select the best location to place the latrines and giving them instructions about digging the holes in preparation to the installation. The latrines we currently use include a normal porcelain toilet stool that is flushable (flushable in the sense of pouring water in the bowl), with the actual cistern hole off to the side; which eliminates any smell and is much more hygienic in its care. Our project man will begin to build the metal housing that goes with the latrine and installation will be done after the families have completed their holes. This is a huge blessing for these families! We sometimes offer our Embrace sponsors the opportunity to provide a latrine for their sponsored child, but it is a pretty pricey item. This extra giving gave a special blessing to these 17 families!
We had a registration in March but had a very poor attendance, due to the travel restriction because of the corona virus. We did sign up two new children. These restrictions also affected our monthly meetings for the other three groups that came in March. We put radio announcements out to suspend our normal meetings for the remainder of the month. We asked the children to be left at home and just for a parent to come and pick up their food bags. We will do the birthday celebration with these three groups in April, when we will hopefully be back to regular meetings without restrictions. Even with the use of public transportation cut off, most of our families found a way to come so that they could receive their food. For many it meant walking many hours. In an uncertain time and with food prices being unfairly raised; thankfully most of our families were able to receive their assistance. The food bags, minus the perishables are being stored for the families who did not attend this month.
We want to give you a better look at just what the Embrace program can do to change the life of a child. We found Sergio in December 2018; he was brought to our registration to find new children to sign up for the Embrace program. Sergio has 6 other siblings in his family; he is also a special need child. Sergio’s biggest issue was that he was emaciated; he was six years old and he weighed 15.6 lbs! That is the weight of a child less than a year old, even here in Guatemala! He was truly nothing more than skin and bones. The mom allowed us to take some pictures, away from the view of others, without his shirt; to see his true condition. As much as the Embrace program provides; we knew that this was a special case where MORE was required! Thanks to a sponsor who took Sergio on and was willing to send extra; we were able to put Sergio on Pediasure milk and also on a product, called Plumpy Nut; that we make from peanut butter, oil, powdered sugar and powdered milk. Sergio had never walked in his 6 years; strictly due to the fact that he had no strength or muscle development to allow him to do so. After only 19 days of being on the “extra assistance” that we gave him; Sergio took his first “assisted steps”, with his mother holding his hands. In just six months, Sergio has more than doubled his body weight! On the nutritional chart that we use to evaluate the children; he went from extreme dark red (which is critical malnourishment) to coming into green (which is a healthy level of nutrition for a child in proportion to their height and weight)! Sergio is building his confidence to begin to walk on his own and strengthen the muscles that are finally developing for him; due to the proper nutrition and assistance that he has received! It has been a pure joy to see the transformation of this child and to realize the difference that can be made; as we give that child their needed nutrition. It is a testimony to the Embrace program and to 100s of sponsors that we have that make that change available to the children that they are helping. We praise God for the change that we have seen in Sergio and hope that it has impacted you as well. Help us to find more sponsors to begin to make that difference in the life of other children! The children are “out there”; we just need people who want to reach out to them and see that transformation happen!