October 2, 2012

Jesus Really, Really Loves the Children!

The "Day of the Child" is celebrated on October 1 in Guatemala. For many it's a day to think about how children are special and cute. For many it's another day to spoil their children, which was no different for our classroom. Some very kind first grade moms brought in a party of pizza, carrots, and cupcakes for lunch and gave each child a special goodie bag to take home.

Don't get me wrong, I am all about pizza parties and candy, but for many less fortunate children, this random holiday is about so much more than that. It's about children's rights in Guatemala. It's about making sure children are being taken care of and that they are getting everything they need. 

Because many children in Guatemala are not being taken care of.

On October 1, many children in Guatemala did not get to stuff their face with pizza and candy. They simply got to wake up to another day of too much work and hungry bellies.

So as a first grade teacher, in a third world country, teaching those who are in every way set up to succeed...I try to pass on a few facts that dig a little deeper than pizza and candy.

Fact: Many children do not have enough food to eat each day.

1 out of every 2 children in Guatemala suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Fact: Some children die of common illnesses because their families cannot afford medicine that costs a few dollars.

Some of these common illnesses include pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. 

Fact: Many children in Guatemala do not get to go to school.

Many families cannot afford to send their children to school.
(Ceipa student we sponsor.)

Some people don't think that girls should go to school to read and write, but instead should stay home and learn how to cook, clean, and take care of children. Girls as young as 12 marry and have an average of 7 children.

Many children have to work to help provide for their families, such as these two kids who go door to door selling fruit all day. 

On average, Guatemalan children contribute 30% of their family's annual income. Many children shine shoes, wash cards, beg, or do street performances to earn money for their families.

So as a class we talk about these facts. Not necessarily all the details, but the overarching facts. We talk about what we can do.

What scares me the most is that my students have all the right answers.

"We can help them!"

"We can give them money!"

"We can give them food and a house!"

But what if we need more than Sunday School answers? What if for real changes to happen in Guatemala we first need to make real changes inside ourselves? What if we first need to humble ourselves, to address some very prevalent racism, and to realize we aren't better than those we offer help to? What if we need to start by realizing that "separate" is not "equal?" What if we need to cry out to God for all that's wrong with this country? What if...??

They are only in first grade. I am only 23. But I have to hope that these "dressed for success" students will embrace the light of Christ and someday make the changes and the difference in Guatemala that a few gringos from the United States cannot make. I have to try and strive and hope and pray.

One of my favorite quotes from Heaven is For Real: For Kids is this: "Jesus really, really loves the children!"

Because he does. Check out Matthew 19. He embraces children, blesses children, and loves children.

Jesus loves the little children, 
All the children of the world!

Feliz Día del Niño!

Grace and Peace,