April 2015 Newsletter


No girl should ever look like this, said Emily, aged 6, softly as she stood looking in the mirror.   Then, turning and squaring off with me, she set her hands firmly on her hips and defiantly said, And I’m never going to look like this again. 

I was recently asked to guest lecture at the National University on the topic of drug traffickers and runners. The traffickers are the differently-sized gears that make up a drug cartel’s machinery.  Together they destroy millions of lives each year.

The runners are the mules and the strays; the drivers and kids who deliver drugs or pick-up money that is owed. Runners exist in almost every city in every country in the world. Oftentimes they do their work while walking to or from class.

When Emily’s father, Walter, was in his mid-teens, he was forced to become a mule. By all accounts, before then he was a good, church-going teenage village boy. He married his girlfriend when they were just 15; little Emily came almost immediately thereafter. He was a kind husband and a good dad.side 1a cropped 3x

Walter earned his living driving a taxi in the nearby town of Chimaltenango. On one run three years ago, a passenger left a bundled package on the backseat of Walter’s taxicab.  Walter spotted it, turned around, and drove back to where he had dropped-off his passenger. The passenger was still there and obviously quite pleased; he gave Walter more money than Walter had earned during all of the previous month.

That’s one way the cartel makes new mules, a friend later explained.  If Walter hadn’t noticed the bundle or hadn’t returned it to his passenger within a few hours, Walter was told, he would have been killed that same night.

The next day Walter was reminded of the payment he had received ‘for making his first delivery’.  He didn’t understand at first because he hadn’t realized he had made a delivery, but after it was explained to him that he now worked for a cartel and couldn’t quit driving for them unless they said he could, he understood.  Walter had just turned 17.

For the next three years Walter drove passengers when hailed, and delivered wrapped packages when told. Through it all he saved every penny, planning to one day take his wife and daughter, Emily, and run away.

Either the national police or a rival gang got to Walter first. He didn’t come home one night or the following day.  Two days later his kidnapped and tortured body was found at the bottom of a local ravine.

After that, Lidia, his wife, fell into a deep depression which, within months, developed into kidney, thyroid and weight problems.  Emily, their daughter, felt so bad at losing her dad and being unable to help her mom, that she repeatedly hit her arms, legs and face with pieces of wood.

A family judge sent Lidia and Emily to the Project.  A neighbor noticed Emily’s bruises and cuts and called the police, thinking the tiny girl was being abused.  The judge listened to their story, immediately understood, and sent the suffering mother and daughter to us in his personal car.

When children and women as ill as Lidia and Emily arrive at the Project, our first thought is ‘Survival’. We rushed Lidia to a nearby hospital where they treated the excess of toxic body fluids that threatened to give her a stroke.

Side 1 cropped

We then placed Emily with a temporary foster family.  We also had her meet daily with Lucia Sican, our in-house psychologist, who coaxed out her fears that it was her fault her dad disappeared and her mother had become sick.

Next, we enrolled Emily at the Project’s Dreamer Center School so we could build a routine for her and give her new friends.

On her first day of classes, I walked in to give Emily encouragement.  I surprised her standing there, looking in a mirror at her now-healing bruises and cuts on her arms and face.

No girl should ever look like this, Emily said without even looking up.  We have to go now, Emily, I told her quietly. It’s time for school.

With an energy that surprised me, she spun around, set her hands onto her hips and defiantly said, No girl should ever look this way and I’m never going to look like this again.

She then picked up her backpack and marched out the door. As she passed me, I heard her harrumph. That made me laugh so hard that tears came to my eyes; also, I knew she was going to make it.

Thousands of children come to The GOD’S CHILD Project because they want to survive. They want to eat, and they’d like to go to school.  Please join us in the battle to save their lives.

Your love, prayers and financial support for the children help them to put their lives back together.

Please do what you can to help. We really need your support right now.


Patrick J. Atkinson
Founder, Executive Director
The GOD'S CHILD Project

p.s. On any given day, 13,700 children and young women walk through a GOD’S CHILD Project door somewhere in the world. They are hungry and looking for food. They are homeless and looking for shelter. They are bleeding or sick and looking for care. Please help us to help the children today.

Volunteer Resources

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with The GOD'S CHILD Project. We would be delighted for you to join us in any of our locations. to help assist you in the process, we have included helpful resources below that will guide you in your journey. Please let us know if you have any questions or find anything that you would believe to be beneficial to share with other volunteers such as yourself.

Jon Okstad
Benefactor Services
Ph. (612) 351-8020

Planning Resources

International Volunteer Application
*Save document to computer before editing.

Volunteer Planning Handbook

Sample ServiceTeam Itinerary

Volunteer Insurance Documents

Travel Agent:

Jane Norman
JJ Design Travel
Ph. (612) 412-3386


Promotional Resources

GCP Logo – Color 

GCP Logo – Black and White

ANA Logo – Color

ANA Logo – Black and White

GCP Volunteer Abroad Brochure

GCP ServiceTeam Promo Video

Sample ServiceTeam Pre-Departure Press Release

ServiceTeam Powerpoint Presentation

Fundraising Resources

501(c)3 Recognition Letter

Sample Donation/Support Request Letter

Sample Donation Thank You Letter

Airline Suitcase Humanitarian Purposes Request




Volunteer Survey 2015

Volunteer Engagement Survey

Step 1 of 9 - Thank You

  • Thank you!

    Thank you so much for being such an important part of our work with the poor we serve over the last few days. Your efforts, compassion, and enthusiasm have meant a tremendous amount to all you have come into contact with. We cannot thank you enough. To assist us in improving our Volunteer Programs for future volunteers, we would greatly appreciate your feedback, comments, and suggestions about the Volunteer Program you've just shared. Please answer the following questions in detail to help us improve our programs for others like you!

Volunteers Take Action to Combat Poverty by Building Homes


Contact: Jon Okstad
Office:  612-351-8020

Bagley ServiceTeam Members Bring Aid to Guatemala


Grace Chapel Church from Bagley, MN traveled thousands of miles to give back to the people of Guatemala by building homes for families needing shelter through THE GOD’S CHILD Project. The Grace Chapel ServiceTeam, a group of 14 people, worked only using hand tools to build a solid secure home. The home’s foundation is soundly constructed with three courses of cement blocks, rebar and a concrete floor. The walls are built with wood framing topped with a corrugated tin roof and painted a special GOD’S CHILD Blue. Imagine the delight and pride on the families faces as they step out of the dirt onto the floor of their new home. This group is one of many volunteers who have joined THE GOD’S CHILD Project’s ServiceTeam Experience™ Asociación Nuestros Ahijados in La Antigua, Guatemala to help change the face of poverty.

When asking the volunteers what their most memorable experience was, they said being fortunate enough “to bless the family with the house” to help with the “situation they were in.” It was wonderful “seeing how grateful the family was for a new safe home.”  

Volunteers who sign up for the Service Team Experience with GCP provide aid to the people of Guatemala in many different ways through various programs. Participants can help with disaster relief, medical care, dental, occupational therapy, social work and education. The most common ServiceTeam volunteer project is the home building program that provides safe and dignified homes to needy families. Hundreds of families’ lives have been changed by the generosity of GCP’s volunteers. Groups are also get an opportunity to explore the culture of Guatemala by touring the country while they are volunteering.


The GOD’S CHILD Project (GCP) is a Bismarck, ND and Minneapolis-based non-profit whose mission is to, “break the chains of poverty through education and formation.” While the majority of the charity’s work has been based in Guatemala, the organization also serves in El Salvador, India, Malawi and in the United States. GCP also founded the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited and Missing Persons (ITEMP) that supports education and awareness of victims of human trafficking.


Fuego Erupts, GOD’S CHILD Project Deploys Emergency Response


Pat Schwalbe, Director of Operations and Special Activities
The GOD’S CHILD Project
Ph. (701) 255-7956

GOD’S CHILD Project Guatemalan Locations Covered in Sulfuric Ash


(February 9, 2015) On Saturday, February 7 around 4:43pm Fuego Volcan, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, erupted and spewed ashes to an altitude reaching 18,000 feet above sea level covering much of Antigua, Guatemala City and surrounding villages according to Guatemala’s national disasters agency. The smoke and ash forced Guatemala’s airport to stop all air traffic for the weekend. 

GOD’S CHILD Project International Executive Director Patrick Atkinson coordinated and activated emergency disaster relief plans for volcanic response with Program Director Miguel Angel Alvarez Paz at The GOD’S CHILD Project’s Asociacion Nuestros Ahijados. Guatemalan officials contacted GCP as they are designated first responders.

The Project’s extensive emergency relief efforts brought 4,000 face masks and medical supplies to villagers in the 4 state region affected, including Antigua. These supplies were also used by first responders including ANA staff, fire fighters, and military reserves. These face masks and medical supplies are extremely important because of the fine volcanic ash causes respiratory and eye infections/irritations. The Project’s partnership with Direct Relief of Santa Barbara, CA is essential in providing medical supplies.

Sunday, February 8, Project staff along with 75 military reserve soldiers helped clean the Dreamer Center, Casa Jackson, Scheel Center, and the entire Project facilities so that the children would be able to still attend school on Monday since most guardians are single working mothers. Not only is this fine, sulfuric ash dangerous to humans, it breaks down anything mechanical, and contaminates all surfaces. The Project staff and military reserves have been working around the clock to clean all contaminated areas.

The needs of Casa Jackson and our malnourished infants and children were of upmost priority. After consultation with national authorities it was deemed to not move them because the plume cloud would move within three hours of the eruption.

Fuego Volcan is one of Central America’s active volcanos and located approximately 7 miles from the Dreamer Center. This is Fuego’s largest eruption in 3 years.10422575_1075808912444897_6996299653688924266_n

Founded in 1991 by Patrick Atkinson, The GOD'S CHILD Project cares for and educates 5,000 orphaned, abandoned, and poverty-stricken boys and girls in addition to providing health and community-based services for 8,700 widowed, abandoned, and single mothers and their dependents in Guatemala, El Salvador, India, Malawi, and the United States.

There is no need for clothing donations at this time. Water resources have not been affected. However, need for financial contributions to support these efforts are needed. To contribute to these relief efforts visit www.GCPStore.com

Give to the Max Day Results


We had a wonderful first Give to the Max Day! 

Each year, generous supporters celebrate Give to the Max Day by making their online donation on GiveMN.org. The generosity on this day makes a difference far beyond the 24-hour giving event. Their giving has allowed us to do the work we get the privilege to do. We have raised $15,944, being our first year participating in GTMD, we are pretty proud of our success. We wanted to express our sincere gratitude for our supporters and their dedication to GOD’S CHILD.

Although Give to the Max Day is over, our generous donor will continue to match funds through the end of the year. Keep your eyes open for more ways to help GCP and the women & children we serve. More to come! 

THANK YOU for believing in and supporting GCP!

- The GOD'S CHILD Project Team