Last fall, our partners in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima in Guatemala came to us with an urgent request: They needed our help to strengthen their outreach to the poor. The response of Cross Catholic Outreach’s donors was an answer to prayers. Already the support is empowering the diocese to start the construction of a new Catholic school, build concrete homes for 20 needy families, provide safe water for 583 villagers and support more than 1,500 farmers eager to attain economic independence.
Read on to see how lives are being blessed in Santa Rosa — and how you can transform communities in need!
Safe housing is essential to lift the poor out of poverty. A safe home provides a solid foundation for families. Yet, in rural areas of Guatemala and around the world, poor families struggle to afford adequate housing. Your support helps restore the God-given dignity of families who live in squalid conditions.
A year ago, Rosalina Hernandez and Juan Gutierrez were living in a tiny rundown shack, along with their daughter, son, daughter-in-law and grandchild. “Life was so difficult for us,” says Rosalina. “When it rained, everything would get wet and it would take up to five days for the house to dry out. This new house is such a blessing.”
The house is also a wonderful improvement for Rosalina’s 4-year-old granddaughter, Mariela. Finally, the young child has a safe, clean space in which to play. “Blessed is God for helping our dreams come true,” says Rosalina. “The kids all play together, and the neighbors are friendly.”
Another family to receive a new home was Miguel Jimenez and his wife, Mirna Perez, and their nine children. The family had been living in a makeshift compound built of logs, sticks, scrap metal and plastic tarps. There was no latrine, and they fetched their water from a river-fed water station located about a mile away. The family is giving glory to God for the blessing in their life that was once unimaginable.
“I am full of happiness for my children!” Mirna exclaims. “No longer do they sleep in a crowded place. Now we are in a very spacious one! And my older children are also happy for what God has sent through you. We thank you very much; we are very grateful.”
Loving gestures and generous gifts from Cross Catholic Outreach’s donors are helping restore hope and dignity to these families and 18 others who once lived in makeshift shacks. These poor families are on a path to a brighter future — and their relationship with Christ has been strengthened.
Related: Addressing Poverty in Guatemala
Education provides the best path out of poverty and the children of Santa Rosa know this fact. Our donors’ support of Catholic education has initiated the construction of a new Catholic school and multipurpose facility in Santa Rosa. And through scholarships, 83 at-risk youth can now pursue an education that was previously beyond their reach.
Despite delays in the construction process, the project is well underway. In an appreciation message to backers of the project, Father Raúl Monterroso, our partner in the diocese, had the following update to share:
“God is guiding our hands. The Holy Spirit is at work within this community. I wish you could be here to experience the level of excitement this school has generated among the children, parents and community at large. A project of this scope and size takes a long time to prepare — and we are gratified that it is progressing, and everyone’s spirits are lifted in solidarity.
“Thanks to your help, we will soon be able to provide poor children with a valuable Catholic education that will help them achieve their dreams. We also believe that the school will do a lot of good, so that many people will know God, love him and also serve him.”
One child who was praying fervently for a new school was José Manuel Cian. He is one of 83 at-risk students currently supported by scholarships. Although he was behind in school, he took immediately to learning. José is now 14 and is already in the fourth grade. It has been difficult for the young man to be in a classroom surrounded by little children, but José finds joy in learning and comfort in his faith in God. He has accomplished much in a short period of time. His transformation has been truly miraculous!
Your generous contribution to this ambitious project will give generations of Santa Rosa’s children access to quality Catholic education and spiritual formation. Thank you for helping to create a better future for Santa Rosa and a reason to hope.
Related: Catholicism in Guatemala
Clean water transforms lives. Those without access spend precious time and energy gathering water from contaminated sources. Your support of clean water programs helped construct a critically needed well and water system for the village of La 46 in Santa Rosa, pumping water directly to the homes of 583 villagers. Instead of spending hours finding and transporting water, children can attend school, and parents can earn an income.
Mayra Ramirez is one of 583 villagers who has received clean water thanks to the generosity of our donors. “I never knew life was so precious until I almost lost my son,” says Mayra. Her boy was going to fetch water and had an accident with the horse. “It was very serious,” she says. “But God intervened, and now he is fine.”
The dangers of fetching water are only part of the reason why Mayra is so grateful for the clean, fresh water being piped directly into her home. Mayra now has more time to take care of the house. Mayra and her husband, Raúl, also have more time to work on behalf of the Lord. They both feel like they can give more of their time to the parish, and that is important to them.
Related: Our 2020 Vision for Guatemala
Many of the farmers in the communities surrounding Santa Rosa did not have the knowledge or skill to provide for their families. Santa Rosa’s agricultural program is providing these men and women with vital agricultural training and resources. As the farmers’ yields and earnings improve, men will no longer feel compelled to leave women and children at home in order to pursue economic opportunities in other countries.
The agriculture program is close to the heart of Fr. Raúl because it provides the daily bread for the people. For Felipe Guerra, one of 1,528 villagers whose agricultural yields have improved, the program has been a godsend.
“This year, the corn fetched about 35 quetzales,” Felipe says. “I was able to earn a profit, and have money left over for medicine, doctor’s appointments — and even a little for the grandchildren.”
Without the help of the Santa Rosa agriculture program — covering the costs of the corn seed and fertilizer — Felipe probably would simply have broken even. The program helps empower subsistence farmers to become profitable business owners.
For the first time in their lives, villagers in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima are being blessed with opportunities and services they once considered impossible, including a new Catholic school for their children, safe homes, clean water and agricultural improvements.
The transformation taking place in Santa Rosa will last for generations. Through the compassion and generosity of our donors, some of Guatemala’s most destitute neighborhoods now see a glimmer of hope, and their faith in God has been confirmed.
As Fr. Raúl writes, “I am forever grateful that you have made this important investment in Santa Rosa’s future.”
Related Videos: Donors Share Inspirational Visit to Santa Rosa, Guatemala
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