By Azaria Spencer, a mission partner working with at-risk children in Guatemala
Joseph has been mentoring Danilo for over a year and a half now. Over that time, a bond has grown that allows for vulnerability and transformation.
Recently, Danilo shared his testimony with Joseph.
Danilo is 15 and is one of eight children, coming somewhere in the middle of the family, and currently lives with his mother and younger siblings. They work on the local rubbish dump, separating and sorting plastics. Danilo shared that seven years ago his older brother, aged 22 at the time, was shot dead in front of his wife and four young children. That is certainly one way to set the scene, a stark and raw insight into the reality of his life and the context he grew up in. Apparently, although clearly saddened by this fact, Danilo had shared it in a matter-of-fact tone and simply carried on. He had first started smoking and drinking when he was around 5–7 years old, influenced by friends and unaware that there was a different way to live. He had begun work on the dump at just eight years old, long hours doing manual labour, surrounded by filth. As he grew up, Danilo was spending more and more time with the wrong kind of people and living in a very self-centred way. At 13 years old he was involved in crime, drugs and drink, somehow hiding it all from his mother.
Then he met someone from what is now Street Kids Direct Guatemala and his life began to change. He learned about a different way to live, about God and forgiveness. Danilo’s eyes welled as he told Joseph he had never heard about forgiveness before that day. It must have been like a weight taken from his shoulders, suddenly he saw the world and his life differently. He began to distance himself from those negative influences, the friends, the drink, the drugs. He began to take his education seriously. He accepted God’s forgiveness and love and his life was transformed.
He told Joseph and Pete that coming to the centre, making good Christian friends and being mentored by Joseph has had a massive impact.
I can testify to the change in him over the two years I have known him. His attitude and behaviour have drastically transformed. The self-centred, immature, angry boy I met when I first moved here is now a happy, delightful, helpful, strong young man. He now volunteers with us at our centre and continues to grow daily into who God wants him to be.