Carolina is a survivor. She’s had to fight to stay alive ever since she can remember. One of the reasons she has fought so hard is the tremendous responsibility she feels for the safety and care of her four younger siblings, two boys and two girls. As the oldest – even though she was still a child herself – their wellbeing was too often entirely in her hands. Her story is sadly not unique, but it does highlight the need on the streets of Guatemala City, and the impact of Global Care´s support.
The Street Kids Direct street team came across *Carolina late one afternoon wandering through the Terminal, a notorious market area of Guatemala City. It is infamous for high levels of prostitution, child prostitution, drug dealing, corruption, and as the base for a large number of contract killers. Wandering around the Terminal is not for the faint hearted, but it was the only option Carolina could think of in order to keep herself and her siblings safe.
Carolina was befriended by the Street Kids Direct street team, Global Care’s partners in Guatemala. They gradually began to understand her story, and see what a high level of risk she and her young siblings were experiencing on a daily basis. One day, after much trust had been developed Carolina told the team “if I stay at home (then a small tin shack) a man comes in and does horrible things to me when my mum leaves for work”. The man delighted in making the other children watch as Carolina suffered many months of sexual abuse.
Thanks to the support Global Care offered in those early days Carolina and her brothers and sisters were able to come every day to El Centro, the Street Kids Direct mentoring centre in the Terminal, and enjoy a safe place of refuge. Initially Carolina would sit under a table and just keep an eye on her siblings, but gradually trust was developed and she began showing some interest in learning to read and write.
At only 11 years of age, Carolina had been through the most unpleasant informal education on the streets, but now she wanted to start school and achieve something with her life. Our partners were able to enrol Carolina and three of her siblings in a local school. (The youngest is still too young.) We knew it would be a tough assignment for Carolina to start first grade as an 11-year-old, but thanks to the constant support and encouragement of her mentor and our partners she quickly learned to read and write. She has recently had a school report that demonstrated just how much progress she has made – almost all her school grades were between 95-100%. It is a miracle.
Recently Duncan, the founder of Street Kids Direct, went to visit Carolina, now aged 13, and her family. They were about to sit down and eat their only meal of the day and invited Duncan to spend some time with them in their home, now a brick-built room in the Terminal. As Duncan was leaving he peeped into the cooking pot, which was sitting on a small pile of hot coals which had been placed in the middle of an old car wheel. Duncan was moved to tears to see that the pot contained just eight large tomatoes. This was the main meal of the day for six people.
Thanks to Global Care this situation has now dramatically changed and regular food parcels are being provided to help feed the children. On a recent visit Duncan saw them eating a much healthier and filling meal.
Carolina and her two brothers and sister continue in full-time education and her 11-year-old brother received a special award at school for being the best male student in the whole school year. The family continue to live in the Terminal and are responding more and more to the practical love demonstrated to them, and give thanks to God each day for the new life they now have.
You can help change the story for children like Carolina, by investing in the Street Kids Direct mentoring programme
*name changed to protect child’s identity