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From Street Girls to Princesses

Updated February 2, 2002, below We met M and J on the streets of Antigua, sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the doorway they called ‘home’. At ages 6 and 8, these sweet girls had never lived in a house. The only home they'd ever known the is the street and the garbage dump.

Their mom and brothers are alcoholics and sniff glue. The mom often offered glue to the girls, because sniffing glue would take away hunger pains. Other unsavory and terrible things were a part of their lives that won’t be mentioned here. At first we befriended these girls, their mother and brothers with medicines, food, toys, clothes and sometimes, money. We were excited the first time their mother allowed them to come home with us—for two hours—when M had a bad cut. We gave them their first bath ever, washed their hair, deloused them, gave them worm medicine and a good hot meal. Later, the mother allowed them to live with us for two months and we happily cared for them as our own.

But legally, we weren’t allowed to keep them. W when the mother wanted to take the girls back to a life on

The the streets again,, we objected. We arranged for a court order to place them in a wonderful girl’s home called Principe de Paz. The girls were doing wonderfully, their school studies were going well and they were so changed – truly princesses with such potential!

Then in August 2001, their mother died of alcohol poisoning via liver failure, just a few weeks after coming to our home for medicine.

Sadly, their half-sister persuaded the judge to release the girls; they now live with the half-sister, her husband and three little children in a crowded mud house, with dirt floor and no running water. The girls told us that they sleep five to a small bed. The house belongs to her in-laws, and about seven other relatives live there. We believe that staying with the half-sister will eventually lead to dropping out of school ( maximum of sixth grade even if they do stay in school) later, a life on the street, poverty and possible prostitution.

We located the father of the girls, who was separated from the mother. He was living on the streets, homeless and an alcoholic. The father signed a special legal paper giving us complete custody, allowing us to care for the girls in all ways. That agreement also stipulates that the girls will live with us, and that we have the right to adopt them with no interference.

However, the half-sister made a claim for the girls and so far has court-ordered permission to keep the girls at her 'house'. This may slow things up or kill our chances of adopting. At this time, we are visiting the girls every two weeks and keeping a cordial relationship with the half-sister, who has already been asking us for money as we suspected was her motive all along. She has agreed to allow the girls to stay one weekend a month at our house, so we will see how that goes. We did decide to provide money for school, school supplies and related items.

We are getting counsel on whether at this time we should push forward to require the judge to honor the written agreement signed by the father. If things get worse for the girls, we will go to court.

Please pray for these girls as we decide what to do, and for us as we testify in court and do whatever we can to fight for their lives and rights amid an uncertain future

Hands Of Hope Ministries

Hands of Hope is a medical mission to the rural indigenous poor of Guatemala.

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