Moscow, May 17, 2017
Mother Ines, abbess of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Amatitlan, Guatemala, and head of the Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala City, has announced on the Hogar Rafael Ayau Facebook page and the Friends Helping Rafal Ayau site that the children’s home is being forced to abandon its property in the capital city.
As previously reported, although the orphanage and property had been given to Mother Ines and the nuns of Holy Trinity in 1996 by former President Arzú for a span of fifty years, the Attorney General sent a letter on March 20 stating that the state was repossessing the property, needing it to take care of children with more immediate needs, and that the legal agreement between the government and orphanage was never properly registered and so not binding.
Mother Ines writes:
I am writing this to tell you with great sadness that we are going to leave the property donated for charity by my great-grandfather, Don Rafael Ayau, in 1856; and which in 1996 former President Arzú, asked us to accept in usufruct for 50 years. We received it abandoned, looted and ruined. We fixed it with the help of Guatemalans and it was rehabilitated.
Now, after 20 years, when it is still being done a daily extraordinary work in benefit of 400 youngsters in risk, President Morales is asking it back for the governmental institution of Social Welfare. In three occasions I have sought for a dialogue with the President, but it has not been possible.
The orphanage has been run by the nuns of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Monastery, under the care of abbess Mother Ines for more than twenty years, after the government handed the orphanage, founded in 1857, over to them for renovation and reopening. With the help of generous Guatemalans, they rebuilt the facilities and received a child in need of a home almost daily for the first ten years. They successfully completed over 500 adoptions, after which adoption laws in the nation changed, and the number of children at the orphanage began to dwindle. The orphanage and monastery have also hosted Orthodox guests from around the world.
Several peaceful protests were staged, national and international petitions were established, and legal steps were taken to protect the property, but as Mother Ines announced on May 15, their attempts were not successful.
“We should all agree and struggle to get the abandoned children of our country ahead. Our energy and work should be focused towards good deeds. But sadly it is not so,” she writes.
However, despite the seeming loss, Mother Ines also points to the blessings received from the situation: “This battle that we have fought together to keep the Home, this support received from 7.1 million Guatemalans and from all the media but one, has been an extraordinary demonstration of what Guatemalans consider is correct, noble, and worthy. It has been indeed a pleasure to experience it, and a blessing living it! We thank you for your support.”
The nuns intend, courts allowing, to continue raising the twelve adolescents currently under their care, who grew up in the orphanage, and whose adoptions the law never permitted.
The abbess closes her message with hope and prayer:
We will keep on working wherever we can, whenever we can, making alliances with persons we can count on, like you. We keep on counting on you for everything.
Thank very much. Let´s keep on building our beautiful country.
Let us live with the dignity of children of God our Father, being merciful as He is.
Let us keep the constant prayer that protects us: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
We remember you in our prayers all the time. Count on us as we do count on you. Thank you. Blessings for each one and a thousand thanks from us the Orthodox Catholic nuns of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity.