Published on 02/03/2007
By Pamela McGowan
FORMER Carlisle woman Angela Murray has been to the House of Commons to highlight the plight of street children in Guatemala.
The 30-year-old, who works for international charity Toybox, has just returned from the Central American country where she has been working with homeless children.
She talked to youngsters she has helped get off the streets about their needs for the future in a bid to influence the Guatemalan government.
On Wednesday, the former Trinity School pupil took her findings to London.
There she met MPs and presented her findings to the Guatemalan ambassador, Edmundo Garcia.
Angela, who is now based in Buckinghamshire, studied psychology at Sheffield University, intending to work with children in schools.
After completing her degree in 1999 she went to Latin America during her gap year.
But, after meeting children living in a rubbish dump in Guatemala City while helping Toybox, she has worked for the charity ever since.
Angela, whose family still live in the Carlisle area, returned last Friday from her ninth visit to Guatemala.
One of the highlights for her was seeing how some of the former street kids have turned their lives around.
“It was great to see some of the children who I worked with at the rubbish dump. Some are living in our homes and going to school,” said Angela.
“One has got married and she now has a baby. While I was there, I went to her sister’s wedding. It was wonderful.”
But the main reason for her latest visit was research – asking the children whom Toybox has helped what they want from their government.
“I spent a lot of time with the kids and asked them to write their wishes on cardboard stars, which I took to London with me,” she explained.
“I just think it’s great that these kids are now getting a chance to say what they want for their friends who are still stuck on the streets.”
Angela, along with the Guatemalan ambassador, was invited to the House of Commons to talk to members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Street Children.
She said it was a very positive meeting and hopes it will further help improve the lives of youngsters in the country.
She said she was encouraged to find that the Guatemalan government now has a plan in place to address some of these problems and is also willing to work alongside charities like Toybox.
Angela has also written a book about her experiences in Guatemala, entitled Through the Eyes of a Street Child: Amazing Stories of Hope.
For more information about the Christian charity visit http://www.toybox.org.