Astrid and Doly proudly display the pottery their grandmother taught them to make.
Maria plunges her hands into the bucket of clay in front of her. She pulls out two heavy lumps of clay and places them into the outstretched hands of her granddaughters, Astrid, 7, and Doly, 9.
Maria remembers when she used to teach her daughter how to mold clay into pots and vases.
But that was before the earthquake and the poverty that followed.
So often, when disasters strike developing countries, people lose everything and have no means to get it back. No agencies or government-funded programs are there to pick up the pieces and offer jobs or rebuild homes and businesses.
Maria grew up in a different world than the one her grandchildren now inhabit.
When Maria was a young woman, Chinautla was a thriving community filled with artisans. The culture was rich and her shop was always busy, full of tourists spending much money on her handmade pottery.
But 20 years ago, a powerful earthquake struck Chinautla, destroying homes and businesses. Many residents and business owners like Maria were relocated to shantytowns throughout the city.
Gang violence spread as teens dropped out of school, their parents unable to afford fees or books. No more tourists came.
Maria's daughter, who was also an accomplished potter, began working as a maid to make ends meet.
This is the world in which Astrid and Doly are growing up.
"Many of the children in our community come from broken families or they are being raised by gang members," says Vivian, director at the Cristo Rey de Gloria Student Center (GU-970).
"One day a child told me that he wanted to be in a gang when he grew up. That is shocking and sad to me.
"We must teach these children about God, about His love. He is the only One who can mold them into what they should be."
The Compassion-assisted student center is providing hope for a better future and the means to achieve it to children like Astrid and Doly.
Though the girls do not come from a Christian home, at the center they hear Bible stories and are prayed for every week.
Even while surrounded by gangs and hopelessness, the girls have big dreams for their futures. They are already preparing to leave legacies of their own.
"I want to be a doctor when I grow up so I can care for the sick," says Doly. Not to be outdone, her sister chimes in, "I want to be a teacher!"
CHILDREN ARE THE KEY
While the community of Chinautla is far from becoming the cultural center that it once was, Vivian believes that the children enrolled in the Cristo Rey de Gloria Student Center are the key to rebuilding the city.
It will be the doctors and teachers like Astrid and Doly who will mold and shape Chinautla into a thing of beauty again.
"This is a project that has impacted the lives of the community," says Vivian. "We have been able to spread blessings everywhere. God has truly blessed our ministry. Therefore, the glory is for God."
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