Wednesday, March 8, 2017


James and Ellie Carr
I don't really know where to begin with this post.  My heart aches this morning.  Every day this week has brought a new burden involving children in our area.  I don't know what will be next, but want to give you a glimpse of what is going on in our lives this week and to ask for your prayers for the hurting children here.  The need has been constant, but is often easy to ignore- even living here in Guatemala.  The events of this week cry out for help, for deliverance.

"We need you, Lord."

Monday, Fundaniños was scheduled to receive two new children- brothers- from the government home located directly behind Fundaniños less than a mile from us.  The home is known for operating way over capacity, and having minimal resources for the children who live there.  It is seen by many locals as a breeding ground for future criminals and a place where the abuse kids have suffered before entering "the system" is only intensified.  You may have read about our brief but chilling visit within the home a few moths ago here.

View of the hills separating Fundaniños and Hogar Seguro in Aldea El Platanar, San Jose Pinula
Late Monday afternoon, the brothers arrived with two backpacks of belongings each- more than most kids have upon their arrival here.  They were ushered into the dining hall while several Fundaniños staff met to go over their transfer papers.  Small talk was made with the boys to lessen the visible tension they were experiencing, but talking was too much.  Drawing near to each other, both boys began sobbing.

A few minutes later with cups of purified water to drink, the older of the boys leaned over and whispered to me, "Is this where we are going to live now?"  Unfortunately, I had no answer to give him.  The documented profiles of each of the boys was vastly different than the profiles referred by our internal social worker, and the further into the profiles we read, the more we realized that approving their entry in Fundaniños would only place the children who already live here at risk.  There were too many red flags, and the boys who arrived were ultimately not the ones Fundaniños had agreed to receive.  The transfer was denied by Fundaniños, and the kids returned that evening to the government home.

Fast forward to yesterday as I was driving down our narrow dirt road on my way to Guatemala City, I passed a police truck.  Four officers quickly got out of the truck, leaning over a nearby barbed-wire fence studying the field beyond closely.  It was obvious that they were looking for somebody.  Not long after I received a call from James.  He told me that there had been an escape from the same government home.  He said a group of adolescents, most of whom were dressed in black, had crossed Fundaniños' property and continued down the dirt road.  Not long after, several police trucks followed.
The dirt road to Fundaniños where many of the children were seen fleeing the government home.
We read late last night in the news that at least sixty children had escaped as a result of several incidents and uprisings within the home yesterday.  These are kids who have been removed from their families due to situations of abuse or neglect.  Some are orphans.  They have been moved from one bad situation to another, and yet decided yesterday that life on the streets or back with their broken families outweighed the risks that accompanied an attempted escape and was better than life in the government home.  My heart broke last night for the kids who might not be found and were spending the night lost on the streets of Guatemala.

The conflict I feel knowing that the kids here at Fundaniños have so much that we are able leave our gate unlocked and unattended without much risk of an escape is hard to reconcile.  Each day, we say goodbye to kids who walk or bike into the nearby pueblo to attend technical school there.  Some teens venture as far as Guatemala City for school, but return to Fundaniños each night.  They know are part of a family here.  I can't yet clearly put that knowledge into words with the contrasted destitution, abuse, and spiritual darkness of the home only a few thousand feet from where we live.

This morning, we were burdened with more news from the same government home.  The riots within the home continued into this morning resulting in a massive fire.  The most recent death count states that 19 people were killed in the fire- all minors- teenage girls from what we've heard.  Images of their charred bodies already fill our news feeds.  Twenty or thirty others have been transferred to public hospitals with second, third, and fourth-degree burns.  Fifty disabled children have been reported to be transferred out of the home for their own safety according to the morning news.

Images of SWAT teams entering the home and parents lining the street behind us to hear updates about the status of their children fill our news today.  The situation is heartbreaking.  The count of those who have died or been injured within the home continues to rise.

We ask your prayers for the children in the home, for those admitted to local hospitals, and for the broken and hurting families who have yet to have contact with their children.  Pray for the violence that many children view as the only answer to their hurting situations.  Pray for the broken and overcrowded system with thousands abused, neglected, and orphaned children trapped in unhealthy environments with no resolution in sight.

We don't have the answers.  We can't help them all.  We pray that the two boys we encountered briefly on Monday were not involved in what happened this week.  Their faces continue to flash before me.  Where are they now?  What have their young eyes witnessed?  Did they know during their visit on Monday about the dangers awaiting them in the government home this week?  What we can provide seems minimal in comparison to the massive tragedies right now.  Our hearts break with knowledge of the pain that children suffer so close to us.

"We need YOU, Lord."

***Most recent death toll from fire-related injuries- 40 as of 3/12/17

 Rosa Julia Espino Tobar
Indira Jarisa Pelicó
Daria Dalila López Meda
Achly Gabriela Méndez Ramírez
Yemmi Aracely Ramírez Siquín
Jaqueline Paola Catinac López
Siona Hernández García
Josselyn Marisela García Flores
Mayra Haydeé Chután Urias
Skarleth Yajaira Pérez Jiménez
Yohana Desiré Cuy Urízar
Rosalinda Victoria Ramírez Pérez
Madelin Patricia Hernández
Sarvía Isel Barrientos Reyez
Ana Nohemí Morales Galindo
Ana Rubidia Chocooj Chúta
Jilma Sucely Carias López
Yoselin Beatriz Ventura López
Grindi Yasmin Carías López
Mari Carmen Ramírez Melgar
Keila Rebeca López Salguero
Kimberly Mishel Palencia Ortiz
Nancy Paola Vela García
Estefany Sucely Veliz Pablo
Lilian Andrea Gómez Arceno
Mirza Rosmery López Tojil
Ana Roselia Pérez Sinay
Grisna Yamileth Cu Uluan
Melani Yanira de León Palencia
Luisa Fernanda Joj González

James and Ellie Carr / Author & Editor

James and Ellie Carr have been missionaries in Gautemala since 2014 and write to share their feelings and how they have experienced God's goodness and mercy on the mission field.


  1. Oh James and Ellie, my heart breaks with you. I think of the post you wrote about the government home often. This is just devastating. Michael and I were wondering about foreign adoptions in Guatemala? Are they common or even allowed? Prayers for you. Prayers for the children. Much love....

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers. Unfortunately, international adoptions in Guatemala have been closed for almost 10 years due to the corruption here. It has led to an overcrowded system and mega-institutions like this government home where the kids are no more than numbers. Domestic adoptions are fairly uncommon as well just due to the culture and mindset. A complete restructuring of the orphan-care system is desperately needed.


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