We have had a busy month. On February 25, we handed chickens out. We did this a year ago and so now we only needed to take into account the families that have come into the Embrace program since last February. There were 53 families that received a dozen egg laying chicks. They were a little over 3 weeks old and had been vaccinated 3 times already. The families received some starter feed for them and they receive vitamins every month to help supplement the chickens. This project was done through special extra funding that came into the Embrace program. It is a wonderful project that will provide long-term assistance to the families; through having eggs and also occasional meat for their family to eat.
March was our quarterly birthday celebration at our Embrace meetings; recognizing all of the children who have birthdays in the months of January, February and March. These children all received a small gift, a coupon from their sponsors to use at the clinic store and we sang to them and prayed over them. Everyone got to enjoy some cake and refreshment.
We have a special agricultural project that we are doing this year, to assist the families with fertilizer and seed corn to use for their first planting that is done as soon as the rainy season begins. Again, this is being done through extra funding that has come in from two different sources, to allow us to cover this project. It will bring a huge amount of blessing to the families. Most of our families live off the land; whether it is their own or they have to rent it. They grow corn as their principal crop; which provides their main staple of having corn tortillas for their family to eat. Having the two kinds of fertilizer that we will be distributing will give an increased harvest that many don’t normally get due to not having the money to buy fertilizer. The seed corn is a special kind as well, seed that is resistant to the particular problems that plague this particular area. The men of the families came on March 30; to receive some training and also receive their fertilizer. The corn will be handed out at their April meetings. I am thrilled that we will be able to help the people in this way this year.
Something else that we are doing this year with special funding that has come in is to do “home visits”. This gives us lots of information about the family, the condition of their homes, confirmation of what we have on file, time to share and be aware of special needs and to pray with each family. To date we have done 138 home visits out of the 288 families that we have in the Embrace program. We are trying to get done with our home visits before the rainy season starts, or at least be left with the easy to reach ones in town when it begins.
We had a special registration in March, to reach out to pastors in our area and allow them to sign up one of their children into the Embrace program. Just through some of our known contacts, we registered 8 more children into the program for pastoral families. We are in need of 14 more sponsors to currently cover the children that we have in the Embrace program, who are in need of a sponsor.
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!