BRINGING CALM TO CRAZINESS…
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.
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.
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.