We Visited in Homes with Cardboard Walls

by AMG Staff

What is it like to live in a home with cardboard walls? Just before Christmas last December our short-term ministry team was in Guatemala to help distribute "Bundles of Love," and we saw houses with cardboard walls.

Each of the 7,000 children in AMG's care was to receive a parcel with clothing, school supplies, shoes, socks, food items, and other necessities—all made possible through the generosity of their sponsors.

Our mission took several of us to visit the homes of three sponsored children. We were advised to leave jewelry and other items of value behind, because the neighborhoods were very poor and dangerous. I was excited—and a little frightened.

Our group was small but conspicuous. As we made our way on paved paths and dirt tracks, some children stared at us, probably wondering the same thing we were: "What are these Americans doing here?" A few followed us. Some greeted us, and some giggled and ran away.

As I stepped around trash, dog waste, and questionable trickles of water, I was happy to see children playing, but they were dirty, poorly clothed, and some were sick. "How safe are these children, and who is protecting them from the evil of this world?" I was saddened to see the meagerness of people's homes–thousands of shacks made of cardboard, corrugated sheet metal, scrap lumber, or cinder block.

We came unannounced. At one home, a 13-year-old opened the door and let us in. She and her four younger brothers were thrilled to see us.

The house was one room with a dirt floor, cardboard walls, and a tin roof. I could only  imagine what the rains and winds of Hurricane Stan—just a few months ago—had felt like to the children of this house! The furnishings were meager. Clothes were tacked to the cardboard walls. There was no stove or refrigerator. Their "bathroom" was an outside patch of dirt shielded by a "privacy" fence.

Their mother soon came home. She was 28 years old and had lived on that property all her life. She was 15 years old when she had her daughter; she she now has five children. There was obviously no father around so I asked what she did for work. She "sells things."

I am 29-years old, almost the same age as this dear woman, but our lives are so different.

At the other homes we visited we found their stories to be painfully similar: generations of poverty, disappearing fathers, and lack of good-paying work.

In the midst of it all, AMG's outreach in Guatemala is truly making a difference among lives that otherwise would not have hope. In both the childcare centers and the neighborhoods, we were met with tears of joy and thanks. We were often told that without AMG's intervention, the children would not be educated, would barely be clothed, destined to repeat the cycle of poverty, and without any knowledge of the love of Jesus for them.

God gave me a unique opportunity to ever-so-briefly walk where the poor of Guatemala walk every day. Though they live in wrenching poverty, they have found hope because God's people stepped in through sponsorship and hands-on involvement.

As I took in the sights and sounds of the people, God reminded me that even though they are poor by the world's standards, they can still be rich and have immeasurable treasure. "Did God not choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:5).

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