Rescue Reaches Beyond the Beach
First, thank you to all of our supporters over the past year. Your support has done amazing things for the families and it very apparent now that they could not have survived without our help. We are down in Guatemala this week working with two organizations (More than Compassion and Habitat for Humanity) in an effort to improve the living conditions for these families. The original funds that we raised, will cover much of what is being done. We are also setting the families up with a small chicken business, so they can help to provide for themselves. Additionally, we purchased a sewing machine and have taught them the basics of how to use it. We have had a number of talks this week with the families about the blessings that have come their way and how they need to continue to ensure the children go to school, the moms work hard and they pass it forward. We feel confident that they will succeed in all of these.
To date, the original $21K has been spent:
1) $4000 to ship Gerardo's body back to Guatemala
2) $6000 for monthly stipend to both families
3) $12,000 paid to Habitat for Humanity to build/update houses (including water filteration and smokeless stoves).
4) $2,000 for GoFundMe/PayPal expenses
In order to accomplish these additional items, we are asking for a few more things:
1) Money to set them up with a chicken coup, chickens and supplies (~$2000)
2) $ 3000 for beds, tables and couches for the houses
3) $1000 for school and household supplies
As many of you know a group of Santa Fe Christian freshmen students were involved in rescuing two people from the ocean at Moonlight Beach on Thursday, May 29, 2014. The two people rescued were sent to the hospital and were in critical condition and on life support.
The victims were unidentified for 3 days before any family members were found. Fortunately, on Sunday, a couple of us were able to visit them at the hospital as well as over 20 of their friends and family members and get to know them. We found out that it was an uncle (Vasilio) and his nephew (Gerardo) in the ocean that day.
When we were there, the 2 victims were still on life support and did not have any brain activity.
We took the family members back to the beach and explained that the 2 of them must have been caught in a riptide and how difficult it would be for people who didn't know how to swim. We told them about the Santa Fe Christian students finding them and helping to bring them to the shore.
We also told them about how over 100 students from Santa Fe Christian School stood next to them on the beach as they were receiving CPR and prayed for them and their families.
Unfortunately, Gerardo (the 17 year old boy) passed away on Monday morning, four days after he was found in the ocean.
Baciilio and Gerardo both come from an extremely poor area of Guatemala where there is not even a sewer system set up in their community so they all have outhouses for bathrooms.
Bacilio, wife and five kids live in Guatemala, but he moved to The United States 20 years ago to find work to help better support his family. He would try to send them $300 - $400 a month so that they could buy food and pay for electricity, clothes, etc. Vasilio continues to be on life support with no brain activity, so the family has no one to support them.
The young boy, Gerardo, just came to the U.S. three days before he went to Moonlight Beach in order to go to high school here. His family was just hoping for him to have better opportunities than he ever would have had at home. His mom lives in a one room shack with a dirt floor in Guatemala. She has a hole in the ground for a toilet.
She is a widow with a 7 year old son at home and earns $5 a day cleaning clothes or any other type of work she can get.
We're not sure why God had us there at that moment - maybe it was to find the 2 of them because otherwise their families would never have known what happened to them - they would have just been missing.
Maybe another reason we were there was because now that we know their story, we can help them.
We really want to do something to help out this incredible family. They’re are so sweet and grateful and could use our help in many ways. That's why we have set up this Gofundme account.
If anyone wants to help out, here's what we would like to do for the family:
1. Raise $5,000 to send Gerardo's body back to his mother in Guatemala. She could not fly here to be with him in his final days, because she did not have the money or papers to come.
2. Raise $5,000 to fix Gerardo's mother and 7 year old brother's home with a concrete floor, bedroom and kitchen. We will see if we can have someone build a septic tank so that they can have a flush toilet and shower.
3. Raise $350 a month for a year to support Vasilio''s wife and 5 children - total of $4200 for a year of food and other expenses for the family
4. Raise $150 a month for a year to support Gerardo's mother who now earns $5 a day - total of $1800 to support her and her 7 year old for a year
One of the greatest gifts for these families is that in this tragic time, they will feel the love of Christ from their brothers and sisters here, who don't even know them, yet are willing to help them.
If you would like, you can write what you want the money you donate to go towards.
Thank you for being Christ's hands for these two families who have suffered so much not only this week, but for much of their lives.
Here are some thoughts from the Santa Fe Students who were involved in the rescue:
Kerryanne: It has been a blessing to meet the family and get to know such incredible people. I can't even imagine what they are going through right now, I was overcome with sadness at the hospital and I don't even know them. I want to do whatever we can to help them.
Katie: It was such a sureal experience but I know that God put us all there for a reason. At least we were able to give them a fighting chance to live. Even though we had no clue who the person was, we still did everything in our power to help save them, unsure of a good outcome.
Jack: I hope that the family stays strong through Christ during this time in their lives. I am praying for them during this surreal experience.
Kyle: I can't imaginge what the families are dealing with, and I hope the will be able to find peace through Christ. Im glad we were able to impact their lives by giving them a chance.
Joey: I really can't fully understand what has happened and I can't imagine what Bascilio and Gerado's families are going through and my sincerest condolences go to them
Baylee- I'm just glad that there was no one else harmed, God put us there for a reason and im greatful we could represent him in the best way possible. I hope we can continue to help them by raising money for there families.
Sami: It is comforting to know that God put us all there for a reason, though we may not know the reasons now. I pray that the families find comfort in this sad situation and that we are able to raise money to support them.
Maddie: It was such a life changing experience but I'm happy that God placed me and my friends on the beach at that time. I was so happy to help and give them a fighting chance to live.
Julia: It was a blessing to have such a great group of people there to help. God put this group of people there for a reason knowing they would step up and do their best to save these peoples lives. Now it is our job to help these families as much as possible.
Clay: What happened that day was a life changing experience that I will never forget. I continue to pray for the families of the vicitms, I cant imagine what they are going through right now. I know that God does everything for a reason and i am sure that this situation is no exception. The families are in our hearts and minds.
Your donations are tax deductible and 100% of the funds donated will go to the victim's families. No donation is too small! God bless!
Posted by Gwen Becknell
I just now got a text from Chris North. He was crossing back over the border to the US and received the sweetest call from Andrea (the oldest daughter of Bacilio). The family is really missing all of their American friends (especially Marvin, Gerardo's younger brother, who became especially attached to Matthew). They are all doing well and the chicken business is well underway. They are very grateful for all that this amazing group of supporters have done for them.
To update you on our progress, we are a little shy of only needing $4000 to cover our expenses. Thank you to everyone who contributed over the past year!! What a blessing!
And, we now have a number of monthly donors that will be contributing to sustaining these families as they work to build their business and keep the kids in school. So far, we have commitments for $130/month in funding! AWESOME!! Keep these families in your thoughts and prayers, such a great thing you all are supporting!
I will be updating you later this week (or early next week) with the progress that Habitat for Humanity has made on their homes.
Posted by Gwen Becknell
After a week filled with blessings beyond measure, we wanted to first thank all of you again for your generous support, because without that, we’re not sure how these families would have survived this year. We explained to the families that it wasn’t US who had given them this gift, but rather over 250 of you who had opened your hearts to care for them.
Second, we would like to share with you ways you can continue to help if you are still interested and third we want to let you know what has been spent so far.
Sitting with them on the last day, all of us with tears in our eyes knowing that our trip was over and that we may not see each other again, we couldn’t help but have a sinking feeling when we were explaining that we had spent well over what had been collected for them and that we would only be sending half of the $500 monthly amount we have been sending the 2 families for the next 2 months and then that would be it.
They were very appreciative and hopeful that they will make something from their chicken business, but the truth is, we don’t think they will make enough to feed and support 2 mothers and 6 children with the 30 chickens and coup that we have provided for them.
If we lived there and could dedicate more of our lives to teaching them to support themselves, that would be great! But, that is just not the reality of this situation. Therefore, we are hopeful that some of you will be inspired to reach into you hearts once again and pledge to make a monthly donation of $5, $10 or any amount to keep these families afloat. This will allow them time to work out the kinks with the chicken business.
25-50 families committing $5 - $10/month could make all the difference in the world. Your monthly donation can easily be set up on our GoFundMe website and can be stopped at any time.
We tried to leave the family with everything we could for them to be safe, warm and comfortable because, due to the lack of education, language, and any form of income possible in the remote area where they live besides the chicken business, we knew that there would not be much chance of them being able to buy things on their own after we left.
So, here’s what we have spent:
Total Raised on the GoFundMe Site = $21,900
$4,000 – Transport of Gerardo’s body back to Guatemala (June 2014)
$6,000 - $350/month for America and $150/monthCandalaria (July 2014 – June 2015)
$2,042 – GoFundMe Fees
$11,500 – Habitat for Humanity (houses for each of them)
$183 – Doctor’s bills and medicine for Candalaria
$1250 – Uniforms/Necessities/Household items
$1700 – Chicken Coups for our 2 families and Chickens for a Chicken business for them and for 3 of their siblings who live next to them. (These siblings will be helping our families with their business and are also in great need, so we decided to help them too.)
$2300 – Furniture for both houses
Total Spent to date = $27,500 (we are short $5,500)
It was a blessing to get to know these kind-hearted people. They continually taught and amazed us by their gratitude, faith, and resilience throughout this whole process. We know that God placed them in our path for a reason. We are thankful to have been able to share and continue to share this journey with them and with all of you.
Thanks for all you have done to make this possible!
Posted by Gwen Becknell
On Wednesday we spent most of the day shopping for necessities with the families: school uniforms, school supplies, toothbrushes/paste/floss, diapers, some clothes/shoes, household items. We did this at the local market in Huehue. We also took them to McDonald’s and had lunch and let them play in the Playland for a few hours. They had a great time, and of course, had never heard of or seen a McDonald’s before.
On Thursday, we packed everything up and headed back to their homes in Soloma. This is about 3 hours North of Huehue at about 10000 feet elevation. On the way, we stopped in at the younger kid’s school and talked with the headmaster and the kid’s teachers. It was good to have a chance to connect with these teachers and see how the kids were doing. We stressed the importance with the moms that the kids need to be at school every day. Everyone there agreed that the kids were great kids, but they had missed quite a bit of school. We worked out a scholarship arrangement with the moms. The agreement is they ensure the kids are in regular attendance and getting good grades and we will pay $25/child/month going forward as long as we have funds available. Everyone, including the school officials seemed pleased with this arrangement (and the school will track the progress and report to us on a monthly basis).
After arriving home, the extended families had lunch prepared for us and then we met with Habitat for Humanity to talk about the work needed for the homes. This took a few hours. We also spent a few hours talking to the moms and the extended families about some health issues/medication for Candalaria, and finally the chicken business we are funding. This was many hours of translating from English to Spanish to Kanjabol (the local dialect there in Soloma) and then back to Spanish and then finally back to English. All told, we spent about 8 hours at their house before heading back down the mountain. In the end, we have overspent the funds that have been raised by the GoFundMe site but we truly believe that what we have done this week is the bare minimum needed to sustain this group of families here in Soloma. We are asking you to open your hearts and checkbooks once again for this cause. After spending a week with America and Candalaria, their children and their extended families, we see what a loving and hard working group they are. Three of the five families are without a husband raising a number of kids. We want these children to have a better shot at life. Our goal is to improve their current circumstances so they ensure getting to school each day. The chicken business is a way to help them become more self-sustaining.
We will send another message soon with all the details on what has been spent this week, and what is needed going forward.
Posted by Gwen Becknell
This is Kerryanne and Katie B from Guatemala and we have been here for three days. Yesterday we went to a swimming pool and took the family swimming for their first time ever. They were all really excited and although it was freezing they all had huge smiles on their faces. There was a huge slide and at first they were all scared, but after we showed them that it was fun and safe they were all in. When we got back to the place we are staying at, we taught them how to cut and sew little bears that we are making for all the kids in the orphanage. Gerardo and Bacilio’s family were so happy to be able to help others by making bears and bracelets for the others. We had a big chicken dinner and the Guatemalan family was shocked and very excited to see how much food there was. They were so thankful the entire time and Candelaria, Gerardo’s mother, has said “gracias” more than anything else this trip.
Today, we visited some Mayan ruins and had a great time running around. These kids are such happy and friendly people to be around and so helpful and sweet. We feel blessed to finally be able to meet them in person and get to know the amazing people that they are. We know that Bacilio was a great person to have raised five beautiful and incredible children. And Gerardo obviously had a great and lasting impact on all of his family. So far all of them have helped us realize the true impact that family can have, especially in tough times.
More to follow tomorrow. . . .
We heard about the tragic story of the drowning deaths that occurred at Moonlight Beach but had no idea that Baylee Weaver, the daughter of our Weaver Family friends, was involved. While we recognize the two individuals lost their lives and we are extremely saddened by this news, we are very proud of all of those who put forth such heroic efforts to save them. On behalf of Baylee and the many others involved, we felt it important to make a donation to the fund that has been set up. The continued gestures of kindness from the kids who were involved is simply tremendous; it is young individuals like these that shed a positive light on the youth of our community. Unfortunately, we all too often hear about the wrongdoings of the kids in our community who “misbehave,” and we don’t often enough hear about the good, unselfish and heroic acts that do indeed occur. Baylee and her friends are a true example of the good that exists amongst our youth. For all of those involved, we thank you; your actions are appreciated by many.
Just want to say thank you to all of y'all For the helping my family and god bless all of y'all
Does anyone have an update on Bacilio?
Can I donate an ocean print? May be you can auction it off. Www.facebook.com/CathySuDes