EMERGENCY FOOD RELIEF FOR KIDS
Heading into September, Guatemalans remain in the grip of the coronavirus crisis. While their cash-strapped healthcare system struggles to deal with the medical issues, the entire population bears the impact of social and business restrictions, especially the poorest folks. The most painful effects of those restrictions are hunger and food insecurity.
A Couple of Christians and Misioneros Cristianos Unidos concentrate on getting food into the hands of the hungry. Our formal programs are on hold due to the virus, so we hit the streets in search of those in need. So far, we distributed tons of groceries and produce, cratefuls of supplies, and we're approaching 1,000 meals in our latest effort. Below are some details and info on how you can help.
Feeding the White Flag People
White flags signify a person or whole family in need of food assistance. The sad truth is, we don't have to search very hard to find them.
These folks line the roads near markets and grocery stores hoping someone with the resources to buy food will share an item or two with them.
After so many months, their effort seems better organized. They adapted their timetables to the hot sun and torrential afternoon rains. They know all the best spots for particular types of assistance.
But still, there are signs of desperation. Children wilt in the sun next to their mothers, who are in tears as they promise something to drink soon.
An elderly couple can barely cross the street in their malnourished state and a young father's knees buckle under the weight of his toddler.
We started off trying to buy complete grocery bundles for everyone. That proved costly and somewhat ineffective.
Instead, we deliver meals to the folks with the white flags.
Chicken and rice, hearty vegetable soup, paches (like a tamale), quiche, and more... always with tortillas and tea.
White flag folks get a cut of any bulk food donations or purchases we have. Over 1,000 cases of aloe drinks, 3 pallets of bananas, wiskil (squash), and lots of other produce made it into the hands of our neighbors in need.
They often recognize us when we drive by on other days. You can tell their hearts jump when they see our car. It is a mixed blessing to be able to help when we can, but know we disappoint on days we can not.
Feeding Our Own Program Families
We try our best to stay connected with our feeding program children and their families. These are folks who needed our help before the crisis hit.
We would love to gather them all to sing, laugh, and pray together. But instead, we seek them out a few at a time on the streets near their homes.
We have a list of families who need regular assistance. These people receive groceries and produce from us as often as we can share.
Mothers and church elders from Ciudad de Refugio in our neighborhood developed an information network to track and assist others with acute needs around the neighborhood.
Besides food, we provided some medicine, propane cooking gas, seeds for gardens, money for clinic visits, and even paid a couple of electric bills.
We always look for good prices on cookies, juices, and small toys to help our kids deal with the monotony.
While we are wary of spending frivolously, we believe the small treats help the mental well being of our children.
Feeding the Kids in our Youth Church
About 40 children (and a few senior citizens) share a meal six times a week at the La Naranja church in Cocales.
Sister Ana and the whole pastoral family chip in to cook, serve, and lead prayer during these vital events.
Covid has only recently appeared in the neighborhood. Masks are worn, and the participants try to keep some social distance. But we are envious of how they pull off a group activity every day.
The youth church children chip in to prepare and clean the area. They also help cook and sell small snacks to help cover the costs.
We are not able to participate directly in what we expect to become our third permanent feeding program.
However, we secured specific donations that assure the program will continue for the foreseeable future.
What About Our Other Programs?
Schools will remain closed through the end of this school year (October). We are uncertain but hopeful of a normal re-opening in January.
Our kids in Pamamus are scattered throughout the area. Remember, some walk almost 5 kilometers to attend classes!
We will not deny these children their Christmas celebration. But it looks like it will have to wait until the new year.
The ladies from our Women's Ministry remain in touch. They are a vital part of the La Cuchilla information network. The women in Santa Fe reach out to the sisters running that feeding program for us, too.
Speaking of which, we provide groceries and supplies on an emergency basis to families of our children in Santa Fe. That neighborhood is our hardest-hit as far as illness goes. For that reason, many of our children have left to live elsewhere.
OUR KIDS ARE ALL OK!
There is some good news... As far as we can tell, all of our children are ok and free from Covid.
Earlier, we asked for urgent prayers for one of our girls. Praise God, hers was a non-Covid illness and she completely recovered.
We do have parents and grandparents who are ill, and we believe we've lost a few. We will know more later, but right now, to admit you have Covid is something many are unwilling to share. Nobody wants to go to the hospital alone when the medicines they use are available at home.
But please... join us in praying for them all.
Our Mission and Goal
Our mission is to spread God's love through His Word, through our words, through our works, and with His help. Our goal is to help people get through acute and chronic crises by introducing (or reminding) them of the Hope and Love Jesus offers.
PHOTOS FROM TOP THEN TO THE RIGHT> Kindness is an all-weather event. Yesenia serves some comfort food in the rain to some white flag folks. 2. Praying with some women from the Santa Fe program before they receive emergency grocery bundles. 3. Green bags of groceries, white bags of produce in the back of a pickup, ready for some needy families. 4. A hearty pasta dish, tortillas, and horchata drink *with blocks of ice floating in it( served up for the children in La Naranja. 5. Sharing produce with some white flag gentlemen along the highway. 6. Can't forget our La Cuchilla kids! Yesenia shared some prepared food, a bible, and herself with one of our favorite mothers and kids. 7. That's us! On our way to serve up some chicken meals. 8. Child holds a white flag along a busy street. Her mom is nearby, reaching out to passing cars for help. 9. Bibles, bread, coffee, and prayer shared with members of this family looking for assistance near our home. 10. Chicken, fortified veggy/rice, tortillas, and iced tea... along with some toys, sneakers, and bibles left over from previous events.