This October I had the opportunity to visit CarePoints in Guatemala and see HopeChest’s transformative programs firsthand. One of the things that became more apparent to me in person was how each CarePoint uniquely fit into its local community. CarePoints are not a “one size fits all.” Rather, the resources and support they provide are carefully decided on by local leaders who live in the community and intimately know both its challenges and its opportunities. The CarePoint’s partner then comes alongside the CarePoint, and both communities work together to see the children in that community thrive and succeed.
One of the CarePoints we visited was Oasis de Amor, which stuck out to me for both it’s gorgeous landscape and it’s interesting CarePoint resources.
In this community most families work in agriculture for the local crops of corn, sugarcane, and rubber trees. This is seasonal work, which means that families may only receive income a few months out of the year. They then have to stretch that income during long months of minimal to no labor. To meet a family’s critical needs, children often work in the fields with their parents instead of going to school. Working in the fields can be exhausting and physically intense work. To save more of their daily earnings, oftentimes children will not purchase enough water for their day laboring in the fields. Malnutrition and dehydration cause kidney problems, which has contributed to this community experiencing one of the highest kidney-related death rates of children in the country.
Despite these challenges, Oasis de Amor CarePoint and its fearless leader, Almita, are a light in the community. One hundred and ten children in the community are receiving life-changing support at the CarePoint. These programs are transformative. In addition to providing the children with frequent nutritious meals, basic medical care and hygiene training, educational support, and discipleship, they also began a poultry project!
The CarePoint partner, Lift Church, supported around 20 families with the chicken project. When individuals from Lift Church were visiting the CarePoint, they built the coops with the families, side-by-side. The families are learning how to care for the chickens and how to maximize the chickens as a resource in their homes. Some families even have two coops! Mostly, the chickens are used for eggs, which provide added nutrition for the families and the children.
Almita led us to the home of a nearby family who is participating in the poultry project. We were greeted by Maria and welcomed into her home. The chickens cooed in their coop nearby as Maria proudly displayed a full basket of eggs, which her youngest daughter had gathered that day.
We gathered with Maria and her children in the center of their yard and began talking about what the eggs have meant to her and her family. She explained that, “The cost of providing for the family was high. But now it’s a big help because we don’t have to spend as much money on food.”
In a community where most children have to work in fields so their family can get by, Maria has bigger dreams for her children. She says, “My dreams for my family have changed because at Oasis de Amor I have learned about God and I know that with God anything is possible. So my dreams for my family have changed and are much better.
My dreams for my family is that they can finish their educations. For example, my daughter here (Keling) is going to become a teacher, and my daughter to my left wants to be an accountant (Deysi), my daughter here wants to become a teacher (Lesbia). I don’t know about my son yet. He hasn’t decided. But my dream for my family is that they can finish their education.”
These eggs are igniting hope for Maria’s dreams for her children’s futures. When she doesn’t have to spend as much money on food, she can invest her resources toward her children’s education and help them stay in school. Her children stay healthy and keep up their strength by eating their chickens’ eggs (Lesbia loves her eggs cooked like an omelette!), so they can walk to school and study hard to pursue their goals. Maria’s daughters will be the next generation of teachers and accountants in their city, investing back into the community they love and call home. And when Jefferson decides what he wants to be when he grows up, we will be here to cheer on his dreams as well.