But Rawlings says the country nonetheless had much to offer his family. There's great fishing and swimming, he says, and his house had a view of a volcano. Temperatures were mild; neither heat nor air conditioning was needed. "It's a beautiful country."
Rawlings also was able to see the fruits of his work: Children who had been traumatized would happily run around his office. Rawlings says his office helped secure more than 80 convictions and served hundreds of families during his time there. He says in a given year the office's convictions might represent up to one-half of all of the child sex convictions in Guatemala City.
Back in Sandersville, he is opening a law practice with retired Superior Court Judge Walter McMillan Jr. Rawlings says he expects the two will be doing some small-town practice, but he also wants to work on children's issues. He hopes to represent parties in deprivation cases and represent children charged with crimes and juvenile offenses.
He also wants to develop a way to offer some legal help to families that are the subject of investigation by child welfare officials but haven't been called to court. He's interested in ongoing efforts to rewrite the state's juvenile code. He hopes to use his Spanish some, too.
He says he'll be working on the Georgia courts' so-called "cold-case project," designed to move children who have drifted in the foster system into permanent placements. He wants people to know he's game for speaking engagements about supporting legal assistance efforts in other countries.
"Our work in general was a drop in the bucket, because you're talking about a small team and so many problems," says Rawlings. "But by working with these individuals and by assisting these victims, we actually not only brought some restoration and justice for them, but we also showed those who were working in the system that there was an organization to support them."