Sunday, March 30, 2014

We Said No More

Our facilitators in Guatemala know better. They understand that Finding Freedom through Friendship is limited in our financial resources, as are most nonprofit organizations in our current economy. It takes money to feed, shelter and educate children, and this money squeaks from being wrung dry. 
So we said, and have said for months,"no more." 
No more emails asking if we can help this mother in a village, or that mother in a small rural town. No more pictures of children sleeping on dirt floors in houses with leaking roofs. But Roland, our Guatemalan facilitator, didn't listen. Because he was there in the hospital, with his big heart and his beaten up camera and his indefatigable stamina for helping one more..... he sent me this:

The 2 brothers are; Larry; 8 years old. And Arles; 4 years old. Their mother’s name is Navia. Both brothers are suffering from burning, much itching all over their bodies and also in their mouths, tongues and throat, and it also affect their eyes.
The nurse said aging skin disease, but they don’t know exactly what skin disease the boys have. The nurse and social worker said they have no treatments for the siblings in the hospital, and asked me to search for help for the brothers. The mother and her 2 sons now live now in the hospital temporarily; they do not have their own home. The mother is a single mother. She also has a daughter, but she does not have the disease, and now her daughter is in a special shelter for children in another city. I saw that the mother does not have many teeth. Her two sons have not received exams or treatments by dermatologists.

And with this request, he sent these pictures.
I stood my ground with this picture. Larry is cute, he is malnourished, but then so are millions of children in Guatemala and we can't take them all:

Eight year old Larry

Four year old brother, Arlis
And we only slightly wavered when we saw this one (above right), because his little brother is so sweet, but don't all (at least to us) Guatemalan children look sweet?

Larry's hand
Disease process leaves open sores and scars
But this one got us. The disease process has made a webbed mess of what used to be hands, and his back looks like a burn victim.


Roland's message continued; 
" I have met them 4 times and I have seen how the boys love their mom and how she loves and care very much for her sons, that is my impression, I think my photos shows that. The brothers get hurt easily in their skin and they need lots of attention, many times yesterday her mother had to carry her youngest son. So this is the reason why her daughter temporarily is in a shelter, she was malnourished, the mother had no food for her children."
We could push ourselves harder, work longer for more donated dollars, and network more resources to help. It feels scary and insecure. When we "adopt" a mother with critical needs in Guatemala, we put 100% of our effort into helping. She and her children become part of our "family". These boys have a life threatening, lifelong disease that could suck the financial lifeblood out of our organization. Their mother has nothing, which means getting the family from nothing to something will take hours and hours of time and effort. Hours we don't have.

In the next post, I will tell you what we decided to do.