Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good News!

Hi friends,
I thought it was about time for some good news!
This is something that we have been working on for some time but we didn't want to announce it until we knew for sure that we would be able to go ahead with it.....and then with everything that has happened here for the past few weeks, it took a back seat.

Many of you are aware that we have had a long relationship with the orphanage in San Andres ....Casa Hogar Feliz...which means Happy Home.
This is a small orphanage that was founded about 6 years ago by a Norwegian woman, Un Lisbet. She purchased a home, turned it into an orphanage, married a local Guatemalan man and they have now adopted one child from the orphanage and are in the process of adopting three more.

Earlier this year, she came to us and told us that she wanted to move back to Norway.That she and her husband would be taking their four children as soon as their adoptions were finished. She asked us if Mayan Families would take over running the orphanage.
There are currently 18 children in this orphanage . The ages that the orphanage works with is 3yrs to 15yrs old.
It turned out that if Mayan Families could not take over management of the orphanage then it would have to close down. Most of the children there have lived there for many years now and we didn't want them to lose their home.We have sponsored all the children to go to school for a long time now. Also this area is in great need of an orphanage and this is the only one working in this area now.
So after much deliberation ( mostly on the side of Dwight and Patti - I was ready to go from the moment Lisbet spoke to us!) we decided that we could not let the orphanage close and that we would take over management. It was made much easier because Olga, the social worker who has worked for Mayan Families and has been the Director for Casa Hogar for several years now agreed that she would stay on and be the manager. The "tia"who has worked there has been there for five years and she has also agreed to stay. Lisbet has said that her supporters in Norway have agreed that they will keep supporting the orphanage and that Lisbet herself will try to raise money when she goes back to Norway.
So...the problem that has been most in the heart of Lisbet and Olga is the fact that when the children turn 15 ( particularly the boys , the girls seem to be allowed to stay) is that legally the boys have to leave the orphanage. There are no really good places that we are aware for them to go. This seems like a particularly vulnerable and dangerous time to turn young boys out on the street. There are two boys who have already aged out of the orphanage and the orphanage has rented them rooms and they go to school and then come to the orphanage to eat their meals three times a day.
This is not an ideal situation at all.
So we have been worrying about this situation for some time and how to solve it.
Lisbet had asmall hotel with about 10 rooms. It is not a fancy hotel, more of a hospedaje, but it is very homey and comfortable. Shared bathrooms and a nice outside area.
She wanted to sell it before she went back to Norway. We talked about how we could possibly buy it from her for a home for older boys. Lisbet needed the money from the sale to be able to buy a home when she goes back to Norway.
So as miracles often happen...... .a woman from a trekking company contacted me because she was trying to get in touch with Lisbet. Kids for Trekking organizes treks around the world and they end each trek with going to an orphanage. Each participant raises $1,000 US and they give it to the orphanage. They said there would be 20 participants, that would mean a donation of $20,000 to the orphanage. I explained to her that we needed to buy this hotel for a home for older boys. The sale price is $40,000 US. After many emails back and forth....the organization chose to support our proposal.

Not only that but they have sent a generous donation to be able to equip the home with a new t..v., dvd player, closets, blankets, a ping pong table, several computers... ..we are
very excited about this.

The orphanage license will be in the name of Casa Hogar Feliz. Mayan Families will own the home. Patti,Dwight, myself will be on the board of directors along with a friend that many of you probably know from other is Tom Heaton...from Mission Guatemala.
Tom is a Methodist minister who has been living in Pana for the past year and who we have become very good friends. We all admire the work he has been doing and he is a wonderful person. He is also very excited about this project and we have many plans to be able to have a vocational center for the boys ...who will be aged between 12 and 18yrs old.

Casa Hogar Feliz por Jovenes..... ...youth. ...will be opening next week!

Un Lisbet is happy for us to pay off the rest of the building as we can. It has all come together so well that I am sure that it is a good omen.

When I read the bio's and photos that Un Lisbet sent me of the boys who will be in the boys home, the thing that struck me most was that each boy was very concerned about where they would go when they aged out and they are no so relieved that they have a place to call home where they will receive support. No child should have to worry about where they will go to live.

We are excited about these new projects and hope that you will also be pleased.
We of course, welcome any visits that you would like to make and as always your very valued input and support.


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