By Ashley Siferd
This is the story of one family. A family terrified of the all-too- real threat of rampant and out-of-control gang violence that struck too close to home.
This is not fiction.
This story is about the sobering reality for children who live at risk every day of their lives. Their choices: face death at home, or face death making a daunting and almost unimaginable journey to save and make something of their lives. In the process they have become pawns in a political argument.Born in Honduras, the Guzman children entered a world rife with poverty. Their parents could not afford to feed and care for all of their children. The family was living in extreme social risk.
Their parents, both of them, were killed because of gang violence that has turned Honduras into one of the most violent places on earth. After their parents were murdered, the youngest Guzman children, five of them, were placed into a home by the government. Fortunately, all five lived together at a home called Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH).
However, the tragedy and violence that existed outside the walls of NPH didn’t just evaporate. An older sibling not living at NPH was murdered due to an unpaid debt related to gang involvement and activity of the dead parents. Concern grew for the safety of the Guzman children living inside the NPH facility in Honduras. To protect them, they were relocated.
In time, and thanks to NPH, the poverty and violence they experienced gave way to a fruitful and thriving life for all five of the Guzman siblings.
With NPH, they have a stable home and family life and a place to grow and learn, free from the fear of their childhoods.
Eva, the oldest, is studying in her first year of university. She wants to become a social worker and help others in the way that she was once helped in her time of need. Then there is Roxana, who is doing a year of service required by all NPH children after they become young adults. She is giving back by helping in the babies’ house. Roxana also is studying in an intensive high school program.
Lucia is in her final year of high school and will begin her year of service next year. The two youngest siblings, Gabino and Lucina, are in secondary school.
Theirs is a story of unimaginable loss and fear. Theirs is a story that is shared by the many thousands of children who also are fleeing their home countries because of crushing poverty and crippling violence that is so often a result of poor living conditions.
Fortunately for the Guzman siblings, their story has been infused with a happier theme.
Thanks to the love, care and family atmosphere provided by NPH, the Guzmans now have the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty into which they were born. They now have the chance to change not only their lives— but to also positively transform the country in which they live.
Bishop Richard F. Stika invites your parish to consider hosting a sponsorship weekend and please give prayerful thought to sponsoring a child under the care of NPH. You can do so by visiting his sponsorship website at http://www.nphusa.org/helpbishopstika.