Lost and Found

January 6, 2016 § Leave a comment

The old building is situated along a busy road, and its doors open directly onto a treeless street lined with an old tire shop, potholes, and stores fronted by barred windows. But Hogar San Jeronimo Emiliani, a Catholic orphanage in the very poor “Zona 1” of Guatemala City, is clean and well cared for. The sisters who have dedicated their lives to orphaned and abandoned children pour love into each and every one. Including Edy.

Born to a teenage mother in 2003, Edy was a typical, healthy little boy. Unfortunately, he ended up in the care of someone who abused him so violently that he suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him permanently and severely mentally disabled. His grandmother, who was raising children herself, eventually found him. There was little she could do for the boy, so she took him to the hospital and left him in the capable care of the nuns of San Jeronimo.

Sadly, Edy’s story isn’t an anomaly. Tropical and bordering four neighbor states in Central America, Guatemala is by area a little smaller than Pennsylvania. For much of the 20th century, the country was locked in a cycle of civil war, terrorism, and violence. It is a difficult environment—especially for children—and an estimated 370,000 orphans are in the country, including 5,000 homeless children living on the streets of Guatemala City.

When Edy arrived, there were about 100 children in the orphanage at any given time. And while the orphanage remained poor, the children were loved. They were bathed and fed every day, played with often, and offered cookies in the afternoon.

Thousands of miles away, the Nelsons—Steve, Ellen, Cate, Lucy, and Josh—lived in Belmont, a quiet suburb of Boston. Their street was quaint and tree lined, with kids everywhere. It was something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, one of those neighborhoods where people plant roots and you can watch generations come and go.

Please read the rest at InTouch magazine.

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