Eunice never misses an opportunity to go to the Compassion-assisted Emmanuel Child Development Center. She loves doing the art and handicrafts activities the project offers.
When Hurricane Stan swept through this port community, it was devastating. But soon the water receded. Homes were rebuilt. Life returned to normal.
Yet this return to normalcy is not necessarily good for children like Eunice Castillo. Hurricane Stan's rains and winds couldn't wipe away the alcoholism, drug addiction and child abandonment that permeate Eunice's community.
Safety in Extended Family
The storm's effects couldn't hide the fact that Eunice, 13, doesn't live with her mother or father. The teen stays with relatives instead. But even with all the challenges she must face as a growing teenager, Eunice has found a safe haven among the chaos - her extended family and the Emmanuel Child Development Center (ME-764), a Compassion-assisted project.
Because of migration to the United States, addictions and other reasons, many children in Mexico are abandoned by their parents. They're forced to live with extended relatives or are put temporarily into orphanages until their parents come to get them or they come of age.
When Eunice's parents separated, she and her brother, Obed, went to live with relatives. In all, six people live in the brightly colored one-bedroom house Eunice calls home.
Routine Amid Chaos
Each day Eunice wakes up at 6 a.m., jumps out of the bed she shares with her aunt and cousins, walks outside to take a shower, and then comes back to the house to dress in her school uniform. Breakfast is usually toast with "cajeta," a typical milk candy, or ham or sausages. In a half-hour she's out the door for the 15-minute walk to school.
And every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Eunice rushes from school over to Emmanuel. There, a delicious meal awaits her. Her favorite meal is the orange chicken. In addition to a good meal, the project gives Eunice a chance to do what she loves the best - study about God.
"I like the Bible teaching the most," says the shy, quiet teenager. "My favorite story is of Deborah, a brave woman that helped Barak to get the victory for Israel."
Even though Eunice is shy and quiet, that doesn't mean she isn't observant. She sees the problems in her neighborhood. Going to school and the project have become good routines amid the chaos of her community's ills. The empathetic teen wants to help cure some of those ills.
"I would like to be a doctor, a psychiatrist" she says, her brown eyes sparkling with hope, "because I'd like to help those who are disoriented. If they don't understand me, I can ask for God's help."
Faithful to the Lord
Eunice ends the day going to bed with many a serious thought still on her mind. "Why are mommy and daddy separated?" she thinks. "What does my future hold? Is there someone out there who loves me?"
But her concerns quickly dissolve when she begins to pray. Then she remembers there is always someone to take care of the details of her life. He is faithful and true. He is the Lord.
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