Angela’s story could be considered one of abandonment, disease and death, but that’s just not how our Creator works. God designed Angela’s story to be one of Forgiveness, Courage and Faith. Her story is not only her own, but also the entire home of 80 children at el Canyon and loving staff as well as our ORPHANetwork Nica staff who have walked along side her in this past year during her inspiring fight against cancer.
Late last year, Angela’s mother abandoned her at the hospital – she was 14 years old and undergoing chemotherapy for a rare cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, most commonly occurring in children.
Mi Familia (similar to social services in the US) presented her case to the staff at El Canyon, and in December they took on the daunting challenge of caring for an abandoned teenager with cancer. Weekly doctor visits, surgeries, and discouraging reports from the doctors were overshadowed by Angela’s fighting spirit. Cinthia, the home’s director shared this earlier in the year, “Angela is a warrior, always facing things with great Faith that God will completely heal her. She has many plans for the future and although her family abandoned her in the hospital, she does not harbor resentments and she forgives them.”
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 NIV
While God’s plan did not encompass healing Angela from cancer, He did design her time at the home to unite the children and staff, inspiring them to live life fully and unselfishly. “Everyone here has felt the presence of God in our lives, allowing us to accompany her in this battle, she has united us as a family. Our hearts are grateful for what we have; we have learned to be less selfish, which fills us with much joy and peace. We are very grateful for all of the signs of affection and solidarity that have been given to “Angelita” and to us in these difficult times. The prayers, the visits and everyone’s concern has been very comforting to us.” ~ Cinthia, Director of El Canyon
We would like to extend a very special thank you to our church partners at Dulles Community Church (VA) for making some really special celebrations possible this year at El Canyon. A formal Quinceñera party for Angela and all of the girls who celebrated this big day in 2016 and also a very special surprise Titanic movie party for her 15th birthday in which Angela was dressed like a princess. Our partners at Grace City (MD) also supported the staff at el Canyon to provide specialized counsel from a Child Life Specialist from Johns Hopkins.
Angelita, you have touched the hearts of so many people. Thank you for teaching us how to better love each other. We know you are living a beautiful, pain free life in Heaven with our Father God.
Angela del Socorro Castro García
August 25, 2001-November 1, 2016
Whether they are enrolled in English or vocational programs, working on their undergraduate degrees, or actively searching for jobs, our Transition Program exists to provide a hand-up to our children navigating their way through the new realities of life as an independent young adult.
22 Transition Students just completed a two-day Workforce Training Program hosted by the Job Ministry of the Nicaraguan Government. The training assessed skill-sets and helped students identify careers that are a good fit for them as well as reinforced their understanding of the hard work involved in achieving their career goals.
From the outside she looks like a sweet and somewhat shy 11-year-old girl, for the sake of privacy we’ve changed her name to “Cinthia.” Her story is an all too familiar one for many of the rescued children who find refuge at one of our six partner orphanage homes across Nicaragua.
When her caregivers first met Cinthia they saw a child who needed a shower, clean clothes and a pair of shoes. They knew it would be tough to get her acclimated to school because she tells them she’s never been before. As they do with each child in their care, they welcomed her with open arms and prayed for the Lord’s blessing over Cinthia’s adjustment into her new home.
However, soon the child’s night terrors begin wreaking havoc on her and the 10 other girls she shares a room with. Her caregiver spends hours each night trying to comfort her back to sleep. During the day, she is anxious, she has no desire to care for personal hygiene, she is not behaving in school and she refuses to do her work. Then the most concerning behavior sets in, she begins acting out in sexually inappropriate ways.
It is hard to imagine caring for one child exhibiting such behaviors, but imagine caring for 10-15 children, 24-7, and Cinthia’s behaviors are not limited to only herself. All too often, caregivers struggle to adequately care for traumatized children and are left feeling helpless, exhausted and defeated.
As part of a three year partnership with LAMb International to develop Caregiver skills, 60 caregivers, psychologists, social workers, and educators were recently certified in Trauma Informed Care. Check out LAMb’s blog posts about the Managua and Puerto Cabezas trainings that took place this Spring.
The Skills of Trauma Informed Care:
Caregivers learned when working with a traumatized child, it is critical to remember that all behavior has meaning. During one of the exercises, caregivers identified the behaviors of traumatized children and then mapped out the known traumas the children had experienced. Looking back at “Cinthia,” these were some of her behaviors:
When mapping out her known traumas, this is what her caregivers were able to identify:
|age 0-1||ages 2 – 5||ages 6 – 7||ages 8 – 10||age 11|
Once identifying the traumas this child has endured and understanding the impact each trauma has on the life of a child, caregivers can develop a personalized plan for each traumatized child. This plan will help the child feel safe, feel permanency from their surroundings and stability from those caring for them, and foster a sense of well-being.
These are some of the strategies identified to help Cinthia reach these goals:
This exercise opened the eyes of our partner home caregivers, social workers, psychologists and directors and it introduced practical strategies and tools to help them understand and navigate the emotional and behavioral needs of traumatized children.
“This is the best training we have had in years. We have started teaching the rest of our staff and we are reproducing the trauma training so we can all be on the same page. This way we can improve in how to better care for our kids.” – Ewner (Director, Arms of Love Orphanage Home)