Chichicastenango–When her family walked out on her, they literally took the house with them and left her alone with her three kids.
On that day, Sara (not her real name) lost her sister and her family, her mom, her bed, and even the tin roof that had kept the rain off her at night.
That night Sara had her own two girls and little son ages 9, 7, and about 3 with her, but she felt completely abandoned and that emptiness and hurt were destroying her.
It’s not exactly clear when the idea first came to Sara, but, soon after her family left her, she decided to put an end to her struggle. The best way she could think to do that was by swallowing the rat poison tablets that she found and put an end to it all.
She started by swallowing four or five of the poison tablets each day.
A Long Story of Struggle
For the long years leading up to that night, Sara’s life had been more than difficult.
Ten years ago she became pregnant by an extended member of the family. That wasn’t the only time it happened, and this girl went from being a teenager to a single mom of three struggling to care for her children who were treated as outsiders in the family.
Her family knew who the dad was, but that didn’t mean Sara received any help for the costs of raising three little ones. She was given the blame and the kids were her responsibility.
At times she was tolerated in her mother’s house where her sister and her family lived and at other times she was kicked out on her own.
She found enough odd jobs to keep her children fed and a few sympathetic neighbors helped her out, but times were really tough.
During this time of Sara’s life, Chrisi met her and we visited the ramshackle shed on the edge of a corn field where she lived. Sara told Chrisi the heartbreaking story she had made up to help cover her pain…a story about how her “husband” had left for the United States and left her alone with the children. Later she told us the real story about how her children’s father was really one of her family members.
We had helped Sara’s family with some school supplies for her daughters and food at different times, but we didn’t see her very often. Later we found out why.
A (Not So) Safe Place
After living in a shed that was built on the edge of a small corn field owned by a kind neighbor lady, things seemed to be better when a local family invited Sara to stay with them. However, that didn’t last long.
One day, Sara left her daughter with the man who owned the house. She thought her was safe while she ran some errands. When she came back about a half hour later, it was obvious that her family had once more become the victim of someone she had trusted. Her little daughter had been raped.
She tried to get help, but instead found the hulk of injustice standing over her once again.
Instead of the officials bringing justice to her cries against the perpetrator of abuse against her daughter, Sara was accused of neglecting her children and was herself sent to jail.
Once again, Sara felt the helplessness she had come to know all too well. While she was behind bars, someone else provided a safe place for her three little ones.
Back Where It All Began
When she was released from jail, her family had pity on her and let her come back to their home, but things were not good. She was back in the same situation as before and the man who had taken advantage of her 10 years prior was still there.
The conflict in the family finally got to the point that they knew something had to change, and the family decided it was time to leave without her. So, they dismantled the house and left.
Sara’s brother, who lived elsewhere but held the rights to the land where the family had been had a heart for her and allowed Sara to stay on the land, but she had to rebuild from almost nothing.
The Long Shadow of Depression
In her despair, Sara began taking the rat poison tablets.
After that first night, nothing seemed to happen so she kept taking the poison tablets four or five a day for about 11 days until something shattered her depression.
One of her little girls told her, “Mommy, If you die, I’m going to kill myself because I won’t have a mommy.” When she heard this, she thought, “Oh no, you can’t do that.”
The desperation she had been feeling had seeped into her children as well.
A Reason to Live
The thought of her daughter’s words cleared the clouds from Sara’s mind and she decided she needed to live at least for her little girl’s sake.
About a month after taking the rat poisoning, she got a bad lung infection (probably due to having to breath in smoke from her faulty, broken down stove that was close to where they sat and slept.)
It seems a miracle that she even survived the rat tablets at all.
When she needed to go to the hospital, she asked her mother to take care of the children for her while she being hospitalized, but she said that she was too busy. She ended up asking a nice neighbor lady to take her three children in until she got home and she did. During her two week stay at the hospital, no one at all, not even her family came and visited her.
The Difficult Road to Recovery
Finally, the day arrived and Sara was reunited with her children after being in the hospital for two weeks. With the help of others, she got a bed and some tin sheets to build a house. However, there wasn’t enough tin and the gaps let in cold air that aggravated her raspy throat that was still trying to heal. An open stove where she cooked food for her children meant that the smoke filled their living space every time she cooked.
One afternoon Sara knocked on our door and asked us to come see her at the cold tin shack that she called home. That’s when we heard the rest of her story—the real one.
While our children played with her kids in a small dirt yard where she’s trying to raise chickens to have a few eggs and meat to sell, Chrisi talked with her and encouraged her.
We prayed and told her that she’s not alone. We helped get her home rebuilt with enough tin to keep the family warm, and we will be putting in a new stove that will be more efficient and help get the smoke out of her kitchen area.
As we’ve been helping Sara, she smiles a little more and told us, “I feel I have a family — like there are people who care about us.”— Sara
We are working with Sara to help her see that it’s not just us who care, but Christ who cares for her and will never abandon her.
Sara’s story is not over and there’s still a lot of hurt that needs to be healed, but that’s why we’re here, not to just get people to pray a prayer, but to help others know Christ and discover His love and how to follow Him. We are here to make disciples.
Please pray with us that Sara will find her healing in the love of Christ that never abandons us and that her children will know the love of their Heavenly Father.
A Little Extra:
We didn’t realize it at first, but after tracking down an old photo, we discovered that Chrisi met Sara in 2009 during a mission trip to Guatemala before we ever moved here. Sara had told us part of her story and we had no idea that God would reconnect us with her years later to be part of reminding her that she’s not abandoned.