Maria* was born the year before Buckner began working in Guatemala. Today, she is an 11-year-old girl who has hope; not just a futuristic hope, as in, “We hope she does well.” But hope as a reality.
Late last year, Maria and her mother found their way to the Child Advocacy Center in Guatemala. The CAC is a joint venture between Buckner and International Justice Mission. Both Maria and her mother were victims of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a relative. The abuse had become so pervasive that it engulfed them and left them with no way out.
After months of counseling and the legal conviction of the perpetrator, Maria is moving on and hope is shining in and through her life. At age 11, she has a future.
Maria’s story is a reminder of the impact Buckner is having in Guatemala on a daily basis. We heard her story in July during the 10th anniversary celebration of Buckner’s work in the Central American nation. Guatemala is indicative of the kinds of issues facing Latin America. Today, Buckner works with our NGO staffs in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Peru, Colombia and Haiti.
While all of the nations in Latin America face similar issues affecting children and families, a common thread is overwhelming poverty. In most of these nations, large percentages of the population live on about $1.25 per day. Such oppressive poverty has a direct impact on children, who are almost always the first to suffer.
Because of the Internet, worldwide television and even cell phones, we’re all aware of the pain and suffering in our world. We see the images almost daily. We know through these images of poverty and other desperate situations around the globe. But I was reminded during my recent trip to Guatemala just how close we are to the developing world. The countries we’re talking about are right here in our own hemisphere. Hop on an airplane and you can be in Guatemala City, Mexico City or Oaxaca, Mexico, in less than three hours.
From nearly any perspective, working with Latin American nations in our own hemisphere is natural for Buckner. With our strong Texas roots and history, Buckner is uniquely positioned to have great influence in these countries’ child care delivery systems and models. Our volunteers and staff have a head start in understanding the language and culture of our neighbors. In every country, we have found ready and willing partners anxious to work with us.
Those factors explain why, in just 10 years, we have developed and matured our ministries so quickly in these countries.
Personally, I have a passion for the work Buckner is doing in Latin America. Having been raised and nurtured in the Hispanic culture of my own family and being bilingual in Spanish and English, I have a natural affinity – even comfort – in the cultures of the countries of Latin America.
In a divine coincidence, Buckner has recently signed and solidified our relationship with the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas. This past June, churches of the Convention (Convención), collected and delivered more than 2,800 pairs of news shoes to our Shoes for Orphan Souls® ministry (see page 6). It is no accident that as we strengthen our ties to Hispanics in the United States, God is opening new doors for Buckner throughout Latin America.
Please join us in praying for the children and families of Latin America. The countries where Buckner is working today are filled with thousands of Marias. God has shown them to us and it is our responsibility to be the presence of Christ to them and shine his hope into their lives.
*Name changed to protect her privacy.
We're excited to share with you all the ways you can shine hope to vulnerable children and families around the world. We invite you to stay connected with us while also growing in your own faith.
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