Christine Bolaños covers human interest, social & criminal justice, education & business issues for international, national & local outlets. IWMF Fellow-El Salvador. NAHJ Austin VP-Print. Bilingual.
The raised gardens---one of which was planted on the roof of the Community Care Center---are being tested out at some of the homes of families at the garbage dump, given the endearing name of "the ravine" because of its geographic similarity to a ravine.
Christi and Dan Ucherek never imagined they would willingly leave their families, jobs, and friends in Illinois in favor of re-settling in Guatemala, where they juggle raising four children with full-time mission work for Orphan Outreach. Despite all the unique challenges that come with the lifestyle, the Uchereks wouldn’t have it any other way. However, they caution anyone considering missionary work to prayerfully weigh the pros and cons before making the life-altering decision
Honduras, one of the most economically insecure countries in Latin America, is home to an estimated 170,000 orphans according to UNICEF. These children are oftentimes subjected to a lifetime of poverty and lack of opportunity for advancement. But government officials recently entered into an agreement with Orphan Outreach and other NGOs to launch a pilot foster care program aimed at finding homes for displaced children that could have profound effects on the future of the country’s youth.
Located in the central highlands of Guatemala, the city of Chimaltenango serves as a market center and transportation hub for residents of surrounding rural villages. Most people work as farmers, artisans or merchants. Families spend long days and sometimes as many as 14 hours picking up garbage in the trash dump to make just a few dollars a day. Many times young mothers will carry their infant children on their backs all day because they have nowhere to leave them during the day, exposing them to potentially dangerous toxins.
The children look up at the young adults and smile. They may not speak the same language and they may not look like them, but the children feel safe and loved. The young adults were once foster children and feel a connection to the orphaned children that needs no spoken words. For a moment, they all forget about their trials and tribulations and allow themselves to feel the warmth and joy of the Christmas spirit.