Tragedy becomes impetus for reforms sought by Christian experts.
But the aftermath of the fire has given hope to those who work with the country’s orphans. As the government turns to evangelicals for help, it seems the tragedy may spark the breakthrough some have been praying for.
In some ways, it was not unexpected by evangelical experts on orphans. In 2006, Orphan Outreach founder Mike Douris told the Guatemalan government that the orphanage design wasn’t a good idea.
They went ahead and built it anyway, another link in the chain of wrong moves. For decades, Guatemala has had some of the worst child welfare practices on the planet.
In 2015, the country had the second-highest rate of child murders in the world. Of the crimes against children that get reported—including murder, rape, kidnapping—most go unpunished (88%). Two in five children are malnourished. Among indigenous children, that rises to four in five.
Tales of overcrowding, abuse, and malnutrition leak out of orphanages. The country’s international adoption program had to be shut down in 2008 because children were being sold to or kidnapped for American couples. (At one point, Guatemala made more money on its babies than on anything else—save bananas.)
Guatemala doesn’t have a system for foster care, and there is no culture of adoption. In 2009, just 253 orphans were placed with Guatemalan families. Two years earlier, Americans had adopted 4,726 Guatemalan children.
But that might be starting to change, sparked by the fire that killed 40 girls.
The infamous orphanage, the Virgen de la Asuncion, was built …