That was Then, This is Now

So many times, as I step through la puerta of La Puerta, I remember…

THAT DAY IN NOVEMBER 2018, when the previous property owner first unlocked the chain to the rusted-out metal door.  And I stepped through the centuries old, half broken adobe wall to the most beautiful empty lot of tree-sized weeds, random construction debris and a collection of smashed toilets. It was love at first site.

Location, location, location. Not just in the heart of Guatemala City, the capital of a country with an estimated 26,000 women working as prostitutes, but right smack in the middle of La Linea, one of the city’s several major districts for sex work. We couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect piece of land on which to build a ministry centre to serve these many women.

THAT DAY IN FEBRUARY 2019, after an overwhelming response of a few generous donors, when I wrote a hefty Tamar’s Hope cheque, signed a fat stack of papers at the lawyer’s office, and walked away with a deed and the key for the lock of said chain to the rusted-out metal door.

THAT WEEK IN AUGUST 2019, when some good hard-working folk from Nebraska showed up to wade into the forest of weeds and many crawly things to find the dirt underneath it all. With pickaxes and shovels, serious sweat and equal parts DEET, they transformed the abandoned ecosystem into a fine-looking piece of real estate.THAT DAY IN FEBRUARY 2021 (took a wee time out to let a global pandemic run its course), when our architects and crew broke ground and began making dreams become reality. The plans they drew were for 3200 square feet and three stories of fabulous space to use for the sole purpose of “helping sexually exploited women in Guatemala regain dignity and wholeness.” Over the next year and half, bit by bit, cement bag by cement bag, I watched a work of cinder block art take shape.THAT DAY IN AUGUST 2022, when we celebrated the inauguration of the main level with friends and partners and the many ladies from La Linea. It’s been beyond awesome to be using the ample space ever since for a drop-in centre, church meetings, workshops, medical clinics, parties and just a lot of love and happiness.THAT DAY IN DECEMBER 2023, when we happy danced some more cuz the municipality finally issued us a construction licence to continue the next two stories. It was a brutal test of patience to wait out the unexpected hiatus as the bureaucratic machinery lumbered through treacle. Turns out all kinds of government agencies wanted to get in on our fun, including the ministry of the environment, the ministry of health, the railroad service, and the disaster prevention agency. It was 100’s of pages of paper (no exaggeration!) and non-stop signatures for 20 months.THAT DAY IN JANUARY 2024, when the work crews returned once again with their tools and ladders. I’m beyond thrilled to say they’ve been busy onsite ever since and we’ve managed to keep buying materials for them, little by little, as funds come in. Every day it gets yet more awesome as I now see the very real potential for more workshops, adult education, clinics, counseling, and office space for our future staff.Our vision for the centre is to not only serve the hundreds of sexually exploited women working in the immediate area, but also to be a strategic central location to reach into many other red-light districts throughout Guatemala City.

Every time I step through la puerta of La Puerta, I also remember and feel so very grateful for our generous partners – past, present and future – who are making all this happen with us. Not just the construction project, but also the everyday sharing in the stories of so many of these dear ladies.

There truly is so much beautiful hope for Tamar, and all her sisters!