Hope of Life

Hernandez's Guatemala trip leaves lasting impression

FC Dallas defender Moises Hernandez knows he’s blessed.

Growing up in Texas with two loving parents, Hernandez spent his youth at soccer practices and hanging with friends. He played in soccer tournaments all over the world with both the FC Dallas Academy and with U.S. Soccer, eventually signing a professional contract with his hometown team.

Rather than kick back and enjoy all those blessings, including a healthy baby boy born last year, Hernandez returned to his roots with a humanitarian trip to his native Guatemala with Hope of Life International and Miami Marlins pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

His goal: do what he can. Even the simplest act of holding a child and spending time with them was appreciated.

The Guatemala that Hernandez visited was beyond his imagination. A gorgeous landscape with lush rainforest offered a teasing backdrop for shelters made of cardboard and sticks.

There were children barely clinging to life, somehow shrunken and at the same time swollen from hunger.

Babies had been abandoned because their families couldn’t take care of their most basic needs. Some babies were deathly ill, but lived with parents high up in the mountains with no means to get to a doctor even if they could afford one once found.

“Anything makes a difference to them because the way they live is really bad,” said Hernandez. “It makes you value life here in the states. How we live. How we grew up. We have so much, but they have to take advantage of what little they have.”

While the poverty offered a stark contrast to the life Hernandez has always known, it was the children that captured his heart. Nothing he had seen on TV at home in Texas could prepare him for the heartbreak in person.

“(The children) don’t have any family and they’re so young,” said Hernandez. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to grow up like that. I tried to spend as much time with them as I could, just holding them and playing with them because they don’t get any love. They don’t have any one.

“The newborn babies hit me hardest because families just leave them and Hope of Life picks them up and takes care of them. I have a child, so to see babies with no family – that’s probably what I will remember the most. I just picked them up and held them as much as I could.”

Guatemala native Carlos Vargas founded Hope of Life International literally on the wings of a prayer. When an illness promised certain death, Vargas fell to his knees and made his own promise. Heal me and I will serve the poorest of my people, Vargas pledged. Upon his recovery, the deeply spiritual Vargas made good on the whispered words of a desperate man. Now there are tilapia farms, an orphanage, a hospital, emergency mountain rescues of sick children and acres of hope in the heart of Guatemala.

In a country where a family of five tries to survive on an income of $40 per month, the scope of Vargas’ mission is incomprehensible. In Hernandez, he’s found one more voice for the mute.

“I would love to go back,” said Hernandez. “It’s something wonderful that Hope of Life is doing for the kids and for the elderly. They have great facilities there for all the kids they rescue. I’m going to share it with everybody so they can do their part to help out too.”

ABOUT HOPE OF LIFE

Hope of Life International was founded more than 20 years ago in Guatemala. The humanitarian organization promotes the educational, medical, and spiritual development of the poor throughout the country. Through numerous comprehensive programs including a child rescue center, orphanage, elderly home, school, feeding centers, and construction projects, the organization is providing individuals with the assistance necessary for their survival and giving them the tools necessary for a successful and secure future.