Jade Green helps orphans in Guatemala

Local volunteer provides assistance to impoverished child victims of abuse

By JOE SUTTER

jsutter@messengernews.net

The kids at Casa Angelina orphanage in Guatemala have shocking stories to tell.

“The kids have all been sexually or physically abused by family members, or they’ve been in prostitution rings,” said Jade Green.

Green, a Buena Vista University student from Manson, has fallen in love with those kids over several week-long mission trips to the impoverished country. And now she’s heading back as an intern.

Green will be in Guatemala City starting in mid-June for a one and a half month mission. Part of her job will be helping transport the teams coming in — like the team she was on when she first went to the center.

She heard about it at Faith Community Church in Palmer.

This will be Green’s fourth trip. The first time she went, five years ago, she was a senior in high school.

“I fell in love with the kids, and what they are doing there,” she said. “They come to the orphanage and they go through a healing process. They make sure the kids know that it’s safe. They feed them and they give them clothes, and they become a part of a house family.

“It’s a Jesus-focused orphanage,” she added ”So they work on forgiving all the people who have hurt them, and school is also very important to them. Even if they’re 16 and they haven’t gone through the kindergarten stages, they can start from the beginning. A lot of people can’t afford school in Guatemala, because poverty is so bad.”

The orphanage doesn’t just provide education; it promises funds to orphans who want to continue on into college.

There are a number of houses on the campus, each with about 15 kids. The orphanage also grows its own food in a hydroponics greenhouse.

Guatemala City is one of the10 most dangerous cities in the world, Green said.

“It’s kind of frightening at first, but you get used to it,” she said. “Because poverty is so bad, they will go to gas stations and steal gas, or rob stores, so you will see police officers standing next to the gas pumps holding a gun because they have to protect their business. Driving through Guatemala City is kind of dangerous.”

The volunteer teams Green previously served on stayed in a town called Antigua, but do have to drive into Guatemala City. The hotel where those volunteers stay is basically how you’d expect a hotel to be, Green said.

“When people think about the trip, they think I’m staying in the forest, but we’re not,” she said. “Now, going down as an intern I’ll be living at the orphanage. I’ll be day and night helping them out. It’s going to be different but I’m excited.”

Poverty is more obvious there, she said.

“Houses there are homemade, out of corn stalks and mud. You go into a house, and the kids will be sleeping on a dirt floor,” she said. “When you go to Guatemala, you see it everywhere. People lying on the sides of the streets. … You see it everywhere, and you think, ‘I need to do something to better this place.'”

It’s clear how much the volunteers mean to the kids, Green said.

“Your very first time going, you go to the orphanage on the bus, and they’re just piled there waiting for you to get off,” she said. “I think for them, they grew up having parents or family members who would abandon them or leave them, so having team members come to show love and to show they are loved, and we always come back.

“We may be gone for a few weeks, but a new team will always come back. I think that’s good for them to know we’re not going to leave them forever.”

Green isn’t sure what she’ll do after college, but she might return to Guatemala.

“I think I fell in love with the whole thing,” she said. ”Everything about Casa Angelina – if I could live there forever I would. It’s such a great place. And the fact that God is the focus of the entire thing – It’s very overwhelming at times, but it makes you happy.”

The organization was founded by evangelist Ivan Tait, who also is working to help widows in Guatemala. Volunteer teams help rebuild their homes, and the organization provides furniture and weekly food and fresh water.

“Ivan’s goal is to reach 100 widows,” Green said.

There will be a pancake breakfast to help with Green’s expenses for the trip on Frontier Days weekend. The free will meal will be from 7 to 9:30 a.m. June 3 at St. Mark Episcopal Church, 1007 First Ave. S.

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Fundraiser: Green goes to Guatemala

WHAT: A pancake breakfast to support Jade Green’s work at the Casa Angelina orphanage in Guatemala

WHEN: June 3

TIME: 7 to 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1007 First Ave. S.

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