Guest post: Melissa Hartwick
In Nicaragua, there are many children who are orphaned, abandoned, or unwanted. There are children who turn to prostitution in their preteens and early teens so that they can eat the next day. There are children who are without love and care for today and without hope and vision for tomorrow.
I spent the summer of 2011 in Nicaragua, and I met so many children there who beg all day on the streets and then sleep huddled under an overhang to avoid the rain falling on them. I became friends with children who would come running to hug me with a giant smile on their faces, thrilled to have someone to hug them and show them a mother's love.
I saw so many needs, and so many children in need of love. I knew that I had to do something, and so Casa de Gozo was born. At the end of January, I am moving permanently to Nicaragua to open and run a rescue center for roughly 15 children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or are at risk of prostitution in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua.
I want to love on these children and give them the feel of a permanent family and a home. I want to show them that someone does care for them, and that they have a precious worth. I want to fill their stomachs with food and their minds with learning, to find their talents and passions and equip them to have a successful future. I want to see health return to starved bodies, smiles appear on weary faces, and joy fill hearts to overflowing.
As Casa de Gozo grows, I also want to work with neighboring villages to start fair trade programs which will enable women living in poverty to better provide for themselves and their children. One dream, one life, one future at a time.
The Casa de Gozo rescue center is a project of Back to the Roots, a nonprofit which works to raise awareness of and help end sex trafficking worldwide. To find out more about us, visit www.casadegozo.net and www.backtotheroots.org.
Photos courtesy of Melissa Hartwick and Casa de Gozo
Okay, Sarah here again.
First of all, Casa de Gozo means "House of Joy" and oh, I love that.
So if you would like to help Melissa open and run Casa de Gozo, here are a few ways to do so:
- Pray for her. This is a huge undertaking in many ways. She will need physical, emotional and spiritual strength.
- Friend Casa de Gozo on Facebook to stay up with what is going on there. Share the link on your wall and tell your friends.
- Visit her website and read up on the project.
- Consider donating.
- Melissa needs actual physical STUFF to start this house. If you have gently used baby clothes, children's clothes, shoes, baby bottles, toys, books (all in good condition, of course), please consider boxing them up and shipping them to her for use in the rescue centre. Email her through her website or Facebook page for more details on how to do that.