Someone You Should Know: Family helping build orphanages in Guatemala

Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 11:33 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2023 at 4:50 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Giving their lives to service by helping build orphanages in Guatemala for almost 20 years, Chad and Jodie Larson are this week’s Someone You Should Know.

Chad and Jodie Larson have spent the last fourteen years building orphanages, schools and homes for those in need in Guatemala through their nonprofit Leah’s Kids.

“There are 500,000 orphans there, but they have no services, no help with food. There are a lot of food insecurities. There are just not a lot of work opportunities,” said Jodie. “And so we just thought there’s need here in the states, but down there, they just really have absolutely nothing.”

It all began with a mission trip to build a church there in 2002 with their ministry.

“Jodie and I took our first trip to Guatemala in 2000,” Chad said. “We thought we would go one time and help build a church for a community that needed it. And on the very last day of that trip, we visited an orphanage. Five kids were living in a three-bedroom home, and a little boy came up to me and handed me a bracelet and said, ‘Here, I made this for your wife,’ and it just wrecked my world.”

They describe how the people and children they aid help ground them as well.

“People there are just so appreciative of everything you do. We do take medical people sometimes, and we might just give them a 30-day bag of vitamins,” said Jodie.

The nonprofit began as a tribute.

“In 2009, my Great Aunt Leah was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she only had a few months to live. We went and met with her in Idaho. And she said, ‘Here.’ She gave us a little check and said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing in Guatemala.’ And that was the lightbulb moment that we thought we should create an organization called Leah’s Kids.”

“She became a teacher and poured her life into kids,” Chad said. “She got married and found out she couldn’t have kids of her own. And so that’s kind of the backstory of why Leah’s Kids is called Leah’s Kids. It’s because first of all, she was orphaned. Her dad was killed when she was little, and she had this love for children.”

Through word of mouth, people learn about Leah’s Kids and offer their donations or time and service to take a trip to Guatemala to help.

“Whether it’s the construction or the medical work that we’re doing when we’re there, to see now at the orphanage that we started building not years ago, there was a school there. There are ten homes. There are 160 kids, and there’s a clinic,” said Chad.

Both Chad and Jodie enjoy working together on their mission.