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Marie Mitchell: Novel set at Prince of Peace, Guatemala
11 Sep 2013
Published To

For the past two years I’ve traveled to Prince of Peace, an orphanage for girls near Guatemala City. I met an amazing and resilient bunch of girls from traumatic backgrounds who are smart, loving and kind despite enduring poverty, beatings and sexual abuse while living at home. Now they’re getting an education, plenty of food, clothes, and nurturing. Plus they can take control of their future. 

I want to share their stories through a fictional novel about three sisters, aimed at middle readers. The book should be finished by late 2014 and serve as a fundraiser for the orphanage.

When you meet the girls at Prince of Peace, the first hug melts your heart as you quickly switch from strangers to friends. You spend every moment possible playing with the girls. Coloring. Drawing with sidewalk chalk. Throwing a frisbee. Jumping rope. That’s when they’re not in school. Doing homework. Or chores.

From the smiles, laughter and trust they show, you’d think they’d led a fairly normal life. Far from it. As you learn these girls' stories, you're amazed that they can ever trust anyone again. Some of their parents are alcoholics with little or no education. They have a poorly paid job—or none at all. And too many children to support on a meager income. 

Frustrated by their circumstances, the adults might lash out at those smaller and weaker than themselves. The girls have scars to prove it. The girls were often passed from relative to relative. No one really wanted them. But many took advantage of them. Made them do physically demanding chores. Yelled at them. Beat them so badly they were hospitalized. Starved them. Didn’t send them to school.

Finally, someone noticed and the girls ended up in court. They were sent to Prince of Peace, an orphanage for girls in San Cristobal. It’s a safe place. A nurturing environment. With counseling. Schooling. Healing. Hope for a better future.

In my book for middle readers, I’ll combine many of these stories to tell about three sisters living with their mother and a series of her boyfriends. “Z” is 14 and the one who takes care of everyone else. That’s a heavy weight for a small girl. “X” is 16 and thinks her new boyfriend will rescue her from poverty. The mother, still young, petite, and attractive, gave a baby up for international adoption nine years ago and considered doing the same with “V” seven years ago. But “Z” talked her out of it, promising to take care of “V” like she was her own child. And she has. “Z” pays for “V’s” school uniform and supplies by working for a woman at an artisan area in Antigua.

But when their mom is killed in a motorbike accident, life changes for the girls. They end up at Prince of Peace where “Z” eventually realizes that she doesn't have to be responsible for everyone else. She can finally follow her own dreams.


1. www.mitchell-smith.com

(co-authored with Mason Smith: The Lost Dispatch, 48 Hours, UFO: Unidentified Feathered Object and Squatch Watch)

2. www.kygirlsbooks.com

(co-authored with Rebecca Mitchell Turney: Road To Pleasant Hill and ’Tis A Gift)

3. www.princeofpeacegt.com  (located in San Cristobal, Guatemala) 

Facebook: Mitchell-Smith Books 


The artist or arts organization telling this story was supported in part by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. KFW is based on the belief that when women and girls advance, so does Kentucky. For more information about the foundation and the social change artmaking being done by the individuals and organizations it supports, visit www.kfw.org." 

Documentary Non-Fiction Photography Challenges Cross-Cultural Education Empowerment Gender Health In the Streets Justice Rural - International Rural-Urban Women Youth Books/Writing Appalachia International Southeast Reasearcher Writer
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