Written by:  Maria Cardinale Curreri 11/2008  

OCIMA supports an all-girl orphanage in Santa Elena, a village in north central Guatemala.  At any given time, there are about 30 girls, primarily of Mayan descent, who live at the orphanage.  Most of these children cannot be adopted because at least one parent is still living.  But they are orphans in the sense that they cannot be with their parents.

Adding to their burden is the unfortunate reality that Mayan girls have a somewhat bleak future due solely to their age, gender and ethnicity.  This is why OCIMA takes particular interest in this orphanage – to help enable young Guatemalan/Mayan women to live lives of responsibility to self and community with personal integrity.

The Dominican sisters who run this orphanage are dedicated to the total health of the children who fall under their care.  To the extent possible, the sisters provide a family-like atmosphere by:

      Offering the emotional support each child needs

      Providing food, clothing and shelter in a safe, clean environment

     Ensuring the girls get proper medical and dental care

     Encouraging the girls to excel in school, and

     Allocating chores so that the girls learn personal responsibility

In addition, the sisters run a local school for kindergarten through second grade.  So the youngest girls do not need to leave the premises to attend school until after second grade.  Starting with third grade, the girls attend schools in the area and interact with other children.

When we visit the orphanage, it is like visiting one very large happy family.  We are thrilled to be able to support them through your generous donations!  OCIMA’s support has been used for food, medical care, clothing and school supplies for the girls, as well as improvements in building facilities.  One day, we hope to provide a college education for each girl who shows the desire and aptitude.