Enjoy this update from our Guatemala team–
Gabriella was just 4 years old when she remembers learning that her father was sick. “Well,” she thought, “as long as he’s stuck in bed, he won’t be able to hit me.” Gabriella had no idea how this sickness would affect her for the rest of her life. Shortly after her father got sick, her family ran out of money and little Gabriella was sent to the streets to work, selling candies and packs of cigarettes–or sometimes stealing–to survive. It was cold and dark, and she had to run into alleys or hide in gutters to protect herself from abusers, because she couldn’t return until she had enough money.
Her father’s condition continued to worsen, and she noticed her mother, too, was looking weak. When Gabriella was 7, her father passed away. Curled up in the fetal position next to the casket, Gabriella made the decision to be strong. She had to be there for her mama. Each morning before the sun was out, Gabriella would get up and go onto the streets to beg. She’d return home each night with a few tortillas to fill their hungry bellies, and piece by piece, she would feed it to her mama before climbing into bed beside her to keep warm for the night.
For two years Gabriella continued working from morning until night to take care of her mother, until one morning, Gabriella woke up to discover the disease had stolen her mother as well. Losing everything she had ever known, Gabriella became an orphan, and she became very sick as well. With nowhere else to go, Gabriella walked to the hospital. After months of hospitalization, Gabriella was finally given a diagnosis–the same disease that had stolen her family, her childhood, and her hope. But with the help of medication, Gabriella began to feel better.
3 years ago we received a phone call–We have a twelve-year-old girl. We’ve called everywhere. No one wants her. She’s got nowhere to go. Please, can you take her?
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.”