Why aren’t these boys in school?
This is the question that went through my head when I took this picture. The older boy is definitely old enough to be in school. Maybe he’s taking care of his siblings. Are his parents working?
I took this picture while I was standing in the yard of a local school in Xenacoj in August. School was definitely in session, but these kids were standing on the other side of a barbed wire fence while other kids their age were attending school. There was no truancy officer making sure school age children were in school during the school day.
Their absence from school is already putting them behind in learning and gaining skills that will help provide for their family. I obviously don’t know what their story is, but this is a common scene in Guatemala. Many children aren’t in school for one reason or another. The pattern of illiteracy continues.
Education is something we take for granted in the United States. In the U.S., all children have access to school, and they are required to attend.
Meanwhile, in many parts of the world, children don’t have the privilege of going to school. They have to work. They have to take care of siblings. They don’t have school buses to drive them a long way to school. They don’t have family members who encourage them to get an education.
Did you ever complain about going to school when you were younger? Or do your kids complain about school?
How do you think your perspective or your kids perspective might change by meeting kids like these?
Our experience in Guatemala definitely opened our eyes to a different world.
How can we make a difference for kids like these? That’s an interesting question.
GO! Ministries is trying to make a difference for kids in and around Xenacoj by providing a feeding program in the poorest schools five days a week. The food served at school is very basic (rice, beans, and tortillas), and it makes a huge difference for these kids. Many children don’t eat so well at home, but through the feeding programs they get one decent meal every day while they are in school. More families will send their kids to school if they know they will get this kind of meal. A meal like this provides nutrition and energy that helps children learn more effectively.
GO Ministries is also in the process of setting up a child sponsor program for kids served by the feeding programs. The sponsor program will provide more resources to feed the children. They will get chicken and/or fish along with their rice, beans, and tortillas. It will also provide funds for medical attention that many of these children lack.
Do these programs fix everything in Xenacoj? I suppose not, but it’s a huge help for many.
Can all these kids be helped? It seems like a huge challenge. I know that God cares for these kids. I know that all things are possible with God. I know that we can make a difference by helping one. We can sit around doing nothing overwhelmed by the immensity of problem, or we can stand up and do something – doing for one what we wish we could do for many.
And so our trip to Guatemala continues to stretch and challenge me. I don’t want it to be a waste. I want to do what I can to help kids like these. I share this to help you see into their world, and I share to keep me stretching and processing – to challenge me and our family to find ways to help.
You can make a difference for kids like this. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
- Education yourself. Learn about the conditions children live in around the world. Learn about the education (or lack of education) children experience in other parts of the world. Learn about their nutrition. Don’t ignore the fact that kids are faced with this level of poverty around the world.
- Pray. Prayer is powerful. Pray that these kids would be safe. Pray that they would have food. Pray that they would learn new skills to provide for their future families. And most importantly, pray that they would know the love of God.
- Consider sponsoring a child. These sponsor programs make a huge difference for kids and their families. If you’re interested in sponsoring a child through GO! Ministries, send an e-mail to Dave Sgro at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out organizations like Compassion, World Vision, CMF International, or Lifeline Christian Mission.
- Go! Go to Guatemala or another country. Even a week-long trip makes a huge difference. We fed 450 children while we were in Guatemala for a week. We learned so much and experienced so much in just a week. We were able to hug these kids and share God’s love in a very tangible way through our experience. Our family is already making plans to return to Guatemala. Maybe you’ll come with us!?!
Don’t sit around doing nothing. Take action. You can make a huge difference for needy kids around the world.
What can (and what will) you do today to make a difference for a kid in need?