This past week, we had an interesting chapel time. Every month, the students put together a special chapel time called “Grumi.” I know we talked about this last year, but for those that don’t remember – “Grumi” means “Grupo Misionero” and the students pick which region of the world they want to be a part of. The groups needs to work together to put together a presentation about that region of the world – its needs, number of missionaries, etc.
Thursday was the second “Grumi” of the year and the focus was actually not a region, but “Abandoned Children.” For us, it was a fascinating evening. So, I thought I’d share a little bit of what we learned since it was new information for us, so maybe it’ll be new for you, too!
We live in a part of the world where over half the population is under 18. That’s a lot of kids. We see kids on the streets constantly and naturally, you think they’re all abandoned street children.
We’ve been learning over the past year that that is not always the case. Quite honestly, most of these kids are exploited, not abandoned. There are no child labor laws as of yet in Peru, so making a child work instead of school, or making them work for many hours a day, is not necessarily illegal. Prostitution is also legal, although human trafficking, praise the Lord, is not.
Anyway – we learned on Thursday that 90% of the kids on the street are not legally abandoned. They have families and people to take care of them – even homes to go to at night. Therefore, they cannot be brought, legally, into a children’s home. Only a very small percentage are legally abandoned – with paperwork to prove it – and can be brought into a children’s home and adopted out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a lot of children, but in comparison, it seems like a drop in the bucket.
Here’s a good example of this problem. Remember Cielo, our sweet little deaf girl we took care of frequently last year? She is not technically “abandoned” therefore, she can’t be adopted out. Last week, BCM had to make the hard decision to have Cielo go back to living with her mom and grandmother instead of living here with Karen, the girl that’s been taking care of her. The reason? No papers. If anything ever happened or anything was ever said to authorities about Cielo being here, with no papers, BCM Peru could lose everything in the blink of an eye. But, when Cielo was brought back to her mom, of course, they freaked out – “What kind of Christians are those people? Why can’t they take care of her?” etc etc. They don’t particularly want Cielo (and won’t be taking her to deaf school anymore, or any school at all for that matter), but they refuse to finish signing over papers so she can live with someone who does want her. She now is back in a home where she won’t be educated, bathed, fed, or properly taken care of – but she’s not legally abandoned, therefore, there’s nothing you can do about it.
And she is just one of millions. Abandoned? No. Exploited, abused, not taken care of, unwanted, and unloved? Yes.
At this point, there’s not much that can be done about it all. This is one reason why Pennies for Peru, our street ministry, is so affective. They reach hundreds of kids every week who desperately need some hope, some love, even some food – if just for a couple of hours. Please pray for Robert and Zarela as they work each week in this ministry reaching street children! Pray specifically that God would provide a VAN for them. No transportation seriously limits where they can go and how affective they can be.
Pray also for Cielo. We don’t know if/when we’ll see her again and our hearts just ache that we didn’t even get to say goodbye. Pray that God would work in the hearts of her mother and grandmother – that they would accept the Lord as Savior and that they would either let Cielo go to someone who will care for her properly or that they would step up and do what they need to for her.