This week I’m in Guatemala with the relief organization World Vision, witnessing and reporting on all the incredible work they are doing here. This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be sharing each day about my experiences. I hope you find them interesting, but more importantly I hope in some small way they inspire you to act.
In just two short months my wife and I will welcome our daughter into the world.
I can’t wait to meet her.
Every ultrasound picture, every doctor’s appointment, every little pink onsie that I hang up in what will very soon become her closet gets me more and more and more excited to meet her.
Excited to watch her grow up.
Excited to see who she will become.
Excited just to be her dad.
She was all I could think about this afternoon as I stood in a stuffy, tin roofed cinder block shack on a Guatemalan hillside and looked into the eyes of a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3, but looked half that age.
She was there, along with several other children just a year or two older who, like herself, suffer from chronic malnutrition.
I know you know what malnutrition is. And I know you know what it means to have a chronic condition, but children who endure chronic malnutrition aren’t just missing a few meals.
They’re having their futures taken away from them before they’re even old enough to understand what the future is.
All of the things I will take for granted and probably complain about in the next few months and years – the bottles of milk, the jars of gross looking baby food, the first few bites of real food that will end up all over her face – those simple moments will in many ways define my daughter’s future.
Because she was (or will be) lucky enough to be born into even a modicum of privilege, she’ll spend the first 5 years of her life taking in all the vitamins and minerals and nutrients that are essential to the development of her body and, particularly, her mind.
It’s development that most of us taken for granted.
You eat, you grow.
It’s that simple.
But what happens when you don’t eat?
Or don’t eat enough.
Or not the right things.
As I learned in that stuffy, tin roofed cinder block shack today, the meals we eat or don’t eat in the first 5 years of our lives all but determine our future.
Obviously, if we don’t eat, we die. And premature death is the harsh, tragic reality for far too many children born in Guatemala.
But even having meals to eat may not be enough.
Without the right nutrition, the brain fails to form properly. Without that development, those children are less likely to stay in school. Without that education what few opportunities they had in life diminish even more, and then when they have children of their own and bring those children into the very same impoverished world they were born into the cycle of poverty begins anew.
You can help alleviate the chronic malnutrition that plagues so many children in Guatemala.
You can’t save all of them.
And together, we might even be able save them all one day.
Or at the very least we can give all of them the same chance at life that we give to our own kids.
Poverty is an accident of birth for these children. They didn’t do anything to deserve it. They’re not lazy. They’re not mooching off the system because they don’t want to work. They’re simply the victims of one of the most tragic incarnations of bad luck imaginable.
They just as easily could have been born in our hometown hospital.
They just as easily could have been our children.
That little girl in the stuffy, tin roofed cinder block shack today could just as easily have been my own daughter if chance how played out differently.
As a soon to be father, looking into her eyes today broke my heart in two knowing that her future was forever changed before she even learned how to speak.
I know you weren’t there with me in that cinder block shack today, but I hope the mere fact that chronic malnutrition is destroying the future of innocent children shatters your heart too.
I’m sure it does. How could it not?
But I hope it does more than that.
I hope it compels you to adopt one of them as your own.
It’s not parents most of these children need. It’s food. And healthcare. And education.
By simply clicking on this link and choosing to sponsor a child through World Vision you can give them all these things and more.
You can give them a future.
Grace and peace,