Guatemala City, February 27, 2018
Mother Inés’, the abbess of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Amatitlan, Guatemala, and head of the Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala City, has released a joyous letter announcing the favorable end to the legal battles that embroiled the orphanage over the past year. The letter has been posted on the Friends of the Hogar Rafael Ayau website and Facebook page.
The orphanage, founded in 1857, and property in the capital had been given to Mother Inés’ and the nuns of Holy Trinity in 1996 by former President Arzú for a span of fifty years. However, just two weeks after a disastrous fire at another orphanage, the Attorney General sent a letter stating that the state was repossessing the property, although it had been given to the sisters for fifty years. The state claims that it needs the property to take care of children with more immediate needs, and that the legal agreement with the monastery was never properly registered and so not binding.
The orphanage has been home to hundreds of children over the years, and has successfully adopted out 500 children. The property in Guatemala City is also used for a special education public school, a municipality workshop school, the free Rafael Ayau Online University, a cultural center, and much more.
On March 30, the orphanage’s lawyers filed a writ of amparo to protect the constitutional rights of all associated with the orphanage, as those being evicted had nowhere else to go. Over 400 children are cared for daily at the orphanage, more than 80 of them with special needs.
A petition was posted online and several peaceful protests were staged in support of the monastery and orphanage, but the abbess was forced to announce on May 15 that their attempts were unsuccessful, and that the orphanage would have to vacate the premises. Mother Inés’ wrote at the time: “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.“
However, the latest letter from the monastery has a more joyous story to tell:
We want to make public the result obtained in regard to the AMPARO that was imposed to prevent us from being evicted from the building known as Hogar Rafael Ayau, which was given to us by usufruct in 1996 for 50 years, to do work of mercy. The situation was resolved in our favor, for which we are very grateful. This allows us to continue with the work for children, that until now we have been doing.
“We thank God for His protection and fidelity,” the letter continues, followed by notes of gratitude to all those who helped the orphanage, including Mr. Hugo Marroquín who handled the legal matters.
The letter ends:
On behalf of the children and adolescents that make up our home, on my behalf Mother Inés Ayau Garcia and the nuns with me, and Mr. Hugo Marroquín, we thank you in a simple way from the depths of our hearts. THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND GOD BLESS YOU.
A meeting was subsequently organized at the orphanage’s gymnasium to announce the good news and to celebrate.