One Life at a Time

1 John 3:17
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

How can God’s love live in your heart when you refuse to do something when you see someone in need?

I grew up in a great place on the west coast of the Netherlands, not far from the beach. I live in a beautiful house, big enough to be a home to my entire family. We all had our own room with our own bed and our own stuff. There are two toilets in the house and one shower. There are three supermarkets within walking distance, there is running and clean water in the house and we have a fridge that is always filled with food and drinks. And if the food is not good anymore, we can throw it away and buy some new food. I’ve been through 18 years of education, I’ve had six different jobs and I have learned to speak four languages. I am an educated person with enough knowledge to dream of a good future. I’ve always had enough money to do and buy everything I wanted. My parents are still together and they are great rollmodels for me and my siblings. They both have a job with a great salary. There is peace in my family and in my country. I can go wherever I want without being scared. When I am sick, I can go to the doctor or the hospital that are both a few minutes away from my house. I can go there by car, by bike or even walking. I have everything I need because I was simply born in the right place.

No better place to grow up in!

But what if you were born in Zona 7 in Guatemala City, like many of the kids here in Verbena? What if your dad is an abusive alcoholic and your mom struggles to feed you and your siblings? You only see your dad a few times a week and when you see him, he is drunk. You probably live in a neighborhood where murder is a normal thing. Where you can’t always sleep because you hear gunshots in your street. You don’t feel safe when you go outside, but you have no other place to move to. When you look out the window at night, you can see men with tattoos ruling the streets. Tough men with guns, with a dangerous look in their eyes. When you are old enough you can be like them. Strong, courageous, rich. Men who can be like family to you and who can protect your from your mom and dad. If joining them requires committing a murder, so be it. Death doesn’t scare you anymore. Violence is all you know.

You live in a house that floods when it rains because of the holes in the roof. Your mom is always too busy to play with you, to give you a hug or to help you with your homework. She always yells at you when she comes home from work, even though you try to be the perfect child. You take care of your little brother, you do the dishes, the laundry, you sweep the floor, you prepare the food, just to make sure your mom doesn’t have a reason to beat you or to yell at you. But she always has. There is no safe place for you to go. At home, your mom can’t keep her hands of you. On the streets, the bullets fly everywhere. At any moment, at any place.

You often go to bed with an empty stomach because there is simply nothing in the house. You are afraid to dream of the future, because, according to your mom, it is impossible for you to study, to find a job or to live a different life than the people around you. There is no escape from the world you live in. This is how it is and this is how it always will be. No hope, no dreams, no future.

But what if you grow up here?

But then one day your mom doesn’t leave for work. She wakes you up early, makes you breakfast and tells you to put on your most beautiful clothes. Next to the door you can see a brand new Spiderman backpack. Your mom tells you to grab the bag and put it on your back. She takes you by the hand and walks with you through the neighborhood. After a few minutes she stops at a blue gate. On the other side you can hear children laugh and scream. What is going on? The gate is slowly being opened by a nice guard with a big smile on his face. “Welcome to Verbena, pase adelante.” You squeeze your moms hand a little more and for the first time in your life, your mom smiles at you. You just passed the gates to a brand new life.

For a lot of children in the AMG schools, this is how I imagine their life is like. Not all of them though. They all have their own story, their own problems. After almost five months here, I have learned a lot about life in the red zones of Guatemala City. Abuse, voilence, murder, hunger, high responsabilities, drugs, alcohol… these kids have gone through a lot more then I will ever go through. But when they get enrolled into an AMG school, their life is changed forever. AMG provides the children with christian education, daily meals, medical and dental attention, cultural programs, sports lessons, assistence in finding a job when they are old enough, scholarships, inspiring and loving teachers, counseling and therapy and a safe place to play. But not without the help of generous sponsors who want to build a long-term relationship with these children and who want to help funding all the things AMG provides for them. For only $28 or €30 a month you will change a life of a kid here in Guatemala and I am sure that they will change yours too!

Lives are being changed forever!

Ever since I started this blog I want to raise my voice for children without a sponsor, because I have seen how much impact a sponsor can have in the life of a child. Through letters you get to know your child that lives a totally different life in a totally different country. A child that possibly came into the school as a beaten, scared, hopeless child without dreams and got out as a happy, joyfull, inspiring adult with the desire to change a nation. And that nation can be changed because of you. Really. Because what if your child becomes the new Guatemalan president? What if your child becomes the doctor who finds a cure for cancer? What if your child continues to work at the school that educated him? What if one of these 54 children will be your child that changes the nation?

YOU can start that change. Sponsor a child now.

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  • Reply
    16 August 2017 at 08:34

    Mooi stuk! Klinkt alsof je een perfecte jeugd hebt gehad en alsof dat representatief is voor Nederland, dat laatste denk ik helaas niet en maakt je betoog toch iets minder overtuigend. Desalniettemin kunnen en moeten we meer doen, succes!

    • Reply
      16 August 2017 at 15:24

      Hoi Peter, bedankt voor je berichtje! Ik heb zeker een prachtige jeugd gehad en ik weet ook dat zeker niet iedereen in Nederland dat mag meemaken, maar ik ben er toch van overtuigd dat we in Nederland – hoe cliché dat ook klinkt – nog steeds niets te klagen hebben als ik het vergelijk met wat de kinderen hier op een paar meter van mijn kantoor meemaken. Ik heb de blog ook geschreven vanuit mezelf, omdat ik het ongelofelijk vind hoe gemakkelijk ik toegang heb tot heel veel dingen waar de kinderen hier zonder sponsor misschien nooit toegang tot kunnen krijgen, zoals onderwijs en gezondheidszorg. Een perfecte jeugd is zeker niet representatief voor Nederland, maar dat is ook niet wat ik schreef. Het contrast tussen míjn jeugd en de jeugd van de kinderen hier is waar het om gaat en dat is voor mij de reden dat ik me hiervoor wil inzetten. Toch bedankt voor je reactie!

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