By Dr. Francisco Castro (Medical Director) –
First of two parts
Every year at Dorie’s Promise has been a special one, and this past year was no exception. During 2016, we provided shelter for dozens of kids, but much more than that as we met many other prerequisites for a happy life.
Our goal is to fulfill children’s needs in four basic areas: physical, safety, affection, and spiritual life. These are the most important needs to take care of as soon as an orphan arrives. Then, we seek to reinforce them in an individualized and continuous manner during their stay at the home.
Improved self-esteem and education are our other primary goals. Of course, we want to care for children’s mental and social aspects of health as well.
Most of the children remained at Dorie’s Promise throughout the year, although some returned to their immediate families or relatives. Only a few were adopted by Guatemalan families. Others came to us for the first time, from other homes or families, or from at-risk situations on the streets.
Many arrive in poor health, with most suffering from acute and chronic physical illnesses. Twenty percent of our child population come with special needs and permanent neurological damage.
In most, we found negative psychological and spiritual conditions because of abandonment, abuse and lack of love. Without exception, these kids are coming from backgrounds of poverty, which is the common denominator.
That doesn’t surprise me, since nearly 60 percent of Guatemala’s population lives in poverty and 43 percent of children under five are chronically undernourished.
Because of my experience and extensive reading, I have concluded that Guatemala needs more children’s homes providing the kind of care that Dorie’s Promise delivers. Foster care is still a weak, idealistic social program and adoptive families few in number.
Culturally and economically, adoption hasn’t been viable for many families or social programs. To recruit, maintain, follow up, and train families to do so means a huge financial commitment, or at least better organized, collaborative communities.
Our programs are not perfect. I am aware that there is a need to reinforce financially our health and psychological programs, as well as education, arts and sports. In addition to Special Mothers improving their love and care, we need the presence of more men to improve role examples and gender identity.
Yet, despite our imperfections I am pleased to say that—thanks to our friends in the U.S. and Guatemala—Dorie’s Promise and FCI have successfully provided a good home to many children in need.
They have achieved happiness and have a much brighter future. They could have otherwise been lost to an unjust and dangerous environment. We appreciate your support.