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Lifted from the Dust
by Katelyn McWilliams
Posted on Monday, October 7, 2013
Outside the city of Chimaltenango, Guatemala, sits a trash-filled ravine. On any given day, around 100 people can be found searching and sorting for items to be resold at the weekend market. Admirably, these hardworking families labor up to 14-hour days to provide for their children in an honest way. Many of those children accompany their parents to the dump.

With an alcoholic and abusive father at home, 10-year old Jesmin lives in fear and extreme poverty. She tags along with her mother and two older sisters as they work in the ravine.

Children like Jesmin are exposed to bad weather, smoke, odor, pollution, starvation and humiliation, but we know God lifts the needy from the garbage dump and places them in seats of honor.

Back in Chimaltenango, missionaries Carol and Cesar (pictured right) are parents to 18 girls who come from abusive pasts and are at high risk for a life on the street. The orphanage, My Special Treasure (MST), not only provides safety, education and health care, but the girls are taught and shown the love of God.

In turn, the girls from MST are now showing the love of God to others.

With a desire to teach the girls of MST about serving others, Carol and Cesar began bringing them to the dump every Saturday to volunteer. They recognized an immediate need to start a school, and after sharing this vision with Orphan Outreach, the Ravine School began in January 2013.

In what started as a Saturday school, 45 children from the ravine dump now attend the Ravine School four days a week. In addition to a long list of subjects, such as math and social studies, they study the Bible. Each child receives a healthy meal every day and psychological counseling once a week. The school employs certified teachers but also trains MST graduates to teach.

“We are so happy because this was a dream last year, and now it has become a reality.” Cesar Eguizabal said.

Eguizabal, Orphan Outreach’s Guatemala Program Coordinator, said the goal for 2014 is to support 150 kids from the dump and surrounding community. Their prayer is to find a better building and be able to cover the teacher and principal salaries.

Joyce Rogge, an Orphan Outreach board member, had the opportunity to visit the school this summer.

“It is obvious that the school is grounded in Christ,” Rogge said. “Although we were there for just a short time, the first day the kids wanted to pray for us before we left. It was such a natural expression from them, and the young girl who said the prayer was so heartfelt.”

She was brought to tears by a little girl, Jasmine, who passionately sang songs of praise with her eyes closed and head bowed.

“She would occasionally touch her heart as she sang, and I was overwhelmed with the love in the room,” Rogge said.

With a quality education, the children from the ravine are given the opportunity to move beyond the dump and find better jobs. Cesar and Carol’s prayer to teach the MST girls about giving back has been answered- tenfold.

“The impact on the girls and teenagers of the home has been very positive,” Eguizabal said. “They love helping the little kids at the school. They look forward to their breaks from school so they can go to the Ravine school and help at least one day. The girls see it as a privilege and a great opportunity to serve God through these kids.”

In a trash-filled dump, God is using the transformed lives of the girls at MST to transform the lives of other impoverished children. The gospel is being lived, the poor are being lifted from the dust, and He is setting the world in order.

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