Newest Ministry Partner in Guatemala focuses on Every Child
— Ronne Rock · Tuesday, March 5, 2019 —
They’re called “red zones” in Guatemala: communities plagued by violence, gangs, and extortion. Those living in the neighborhoods receive little support and encouragement, and opportunities are limited. But in Guatemala City’s Colona Santa Fe, elementary and middle school students and their families believe long-term change is possible—thanks to the work of Orphan Outreach’s newest family preservation ministry partner, Cada Niño.
“CadaNiño means “every child,” and the work being done at the community center in Colonia Santa Fe is truly focused on just that—giving every child the support they need to thrive,” says Katherine Cheng, VP of Programs for Orphan Outreach. CadaNiño provides educational, emotional, and spiritual care to vulnerable children.
“As one parent put it, we provide a safe place for kids to learn,” shares Timothy Martiny, the founder and director of the community center. “Currently, over 100 children are enrolled in our three-hour afternoon program that includes computer/IT skills, spiritual formation and educational reinforcement.”
CadaNiño students gather at the center for tutoring, mentoring, bible study, worship, and computer training. The approach to care is innovative, and the focus on technology training is changing the trajectory of the community as it changes the lives of the children.
“Imagine for a minute that you are a 10-year old student, and your teacher gives you an assignment to write a book report,” says Timothy. “You have no books about it, no encyclopedias, and the school has no text books for you to use. There are no libraries in your neighborhood, no book stores, you don’t have a computer or even $.12 for 10 minutes at the internet café. What do you do?
"Now imagine that you are that same kid, but you come to our community center after school for three hours a day, three times a week. After your one-hour Bible class you take a one-hour computer class where you have learned to type, are computer proficient and can use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. You go online, research the information you need, write up your essay, print it out or put the slideshow on your flash drive and actually complete your homework. Can you see the difference?”
Not only do the students become computer literate at CadaNiño, but they are introduced to coding, programming, graphics design and web development through online courses. Timothy says the training “gives them the ability to pursue a career in STEM fields that they never knew was possible. It opens up the world for them, and that has incredible value.”
The students aren’t the only ones actively involved at CadaNiño. Parents are asked to support the program by volunteering at least one hour a month at the community center or assisting with community cleanup efforts done by the students each month.
Joining Orphan Outreach as a ministry partner has been a goal of Timothy and the staff of CadaNiño, and he believes the union will do nothing but strengthen the programs offered by the community center. “When I think about our partnership with Orphan Outreach and what has been key to its development, it’s our shared values, commitment and purpose when it comes to serving vulnerable children, well-coupled with a desire to continue learning and a willingness to share what we learn with others. My long-term hope for our partnership is that we can work together to refine a model of community-based services that lead vulnerable children and families towards discipleship, assist students with their education, empower them to develop their God given abilities and give them a skillset that launches them out of the cycle of poverty.”
Timothy has already seen benefits of the program in the visits from mission teams who provide respite for teachers and staff while continuing to reinforce the values set by CadaNiño. “We run a very solid, consistent program. We try to keep our staff focused on their primary job as teachers, mentors and instructors of the children. That said, everyone needs a break from their routine from time to time. In the past this fell heavily on our teachers to plan special events. Having teams come and teach well-planned programs and activities with the kids is a blessing because it gives our teachers a break and allows the kids change of pace. They get to hear an important message from another source reinforcing the values we teach, it shows that there are universal truths that even people from other countries and cultures believe and it shows that God is the same the world over.”