Food for the Poor: Guatemala Trip Day Two
We arrived in Guatemala City on a pleasant, partly cloudy day. Not much humidity, clear air, and a slight breeze. Our group of twenty travelers from radio stations around the country headed directly to the Sor Lucia Roge Nutritional Center in town. The Nutritional Center is actually an orphanage where extremely malnourished children are rescued back to life. It is immaculately clean and well staffed by smiling helpers. When you enter the facility’s grounds and courtyard you are greeted by well kept green grass; vibrant flowering plants and trees, and the gracious smile of Sister Ana Cristina.
Sister Ana Cristina exudes a Mother Teresa like joy and passion for the children she has dedicated her life to rescuing. In total, there are about ninety kids from infant to grade school aged living at the center. The first two rooms each have about twelve cribs, mostly full of infants and tiny toddlers. At first, most of the children stand at the edge of their cribs staring blankly at the new guests. After a few minutes, some of the children are letting us hold them or gently caress their shoulder or face. The children show their appreciation with a tempered response that reflects the cost of prolonged malnutrition. They are being well fed at this moment, but they have traveled a dangerous journey to get here. The lasting signs of malnutrition are still very much evident. The emaciation might be gone, but their skin still has the look of a child that has seen too many difficult days.
I pay careful attention to how the kids respond to their caretakers. There is a genuine kindness and motherly affection demonstrated by the women who faithfully care for these precious gifts from God. The babies and toddlers reach out to the caretakers as a child reaches out to someone they love and trust. As we head past the first two rooms and place the babies back into their cribs, we move to a room full of playful toddlers and grade school aged kids. They run up to us and give us hugs. We try to carry on a conversation that is limited by our language barriers. Even so, A hug or playful bounce on the knee expresses a universal connection.
Our last room is a room of pictures. A wall full of starving children. . . children with hollow eyes and despairing cries. A wall full of skin and bones. . . . children with life in their blood, but little else. These are the before pictures. The before they were rescued by sister Ana and her team of surrogate mothers. Before they received the nourishment and medical care provided by Food for the Poor.