I have just come back from my third trip to Guatemala. It was an exciting trip that had a few new faces added to the mix. The stories we heard and the successes that the organization we help, Common Hope, down there are awe inspiring and life changing. So what did we do down there?
We built a home, perhaps I should start saying shelter instead of house because most people’s views of a house I feel are like the ones you see in the States here, and this was nothing like that. It was a four walled, two room shelter. They upgraded it since last time we were down there with glass windows and a Plexiglas center in the roof to allow light in. We poured a cement floor for them as well so they didn’t have to live on a dirt floor. My personal contributions to the project were helping with the floor, putting the roof up and doing a small section of siding on one side. This year we built the whole house from scratch, where usually the panels are largely created in the past and we just put the house together.
We went on social work visits, flies on the wall in the social work visits that the organization goes on numerous times a day. We experienced how they go through a social work visit, got to ride chicken buses, and saw how different families live. Some live off a little better than others. But most people have dirt floors and metal walls/roofs.
We went to a school, four groups taught four classes how to do math activities. One group, my group, taught the kids how to play “spoons” which we turned into “pencils” because we didn’t have enough spoons to go around. My particular group didn’t get it until I had one of our other vision team members come and help. The two girls who ran this activity are seniors in High School and this was their first trip as part of a Vision Team! They were the greatest!! Another important part of the educational section of this visit was we learned a statistic that was something like there was a 16% graduation rate, than with 25 years of Common Hope, the rate raised to 35%. But get this, just 5 years later and the rate went from 35% to 60%!!!! This is incredibly awesome knowing that the families are realizing the importance of education in their lives and that they are sticking with it all the way to the end. AND the communities around the ones that Common Hope is currently working with, are starting to COME to Common Hope and looking for help as well, which is a huge deal down there. The word of mouth and the success they are having in the organization is spreading like wildfire and they are spreading out!!
We went to a coffee farm, we learned all about the process of making coffee from an old Common Hope employee and he took us up a mountain to his patch of land where he grows his famous coffee. We got to pick coffee for a while and it was dirty, tough work! One of our trucks even got stuck for about an hour on the way back and it look pretty much a village to get us out! It was cool to see the Guatemalans come to help out their fellow worker and work together to fix the problem at hand.
We went on sponsorship visits, I got to personally meet our families sponsored child with my dad this year. He lives in a community known as San Rafael. We got to go to his home and see his whole family (minus his dad who was out in the fields working). He has two older siblings, a brother and a sister. He also had two younger sisters. We played spanish bingo with him, gave him two books to read. And after a very exciting visit, the mother was gracious enough to give us (my dad, myself, the social worker, and the translator) all bags of tomatoes, which was their livelihood. She told our translator that they were the first crop of the year and that by giving us them, it was like planting a seed and a thank you to God for the blessing of a good crop. I was also able, thanks to a very kind vision team member, to sponsor another child this time down there through a split sponsorship. We got to meet him luckily on the same trip and he is a stud as well, he is in 5th grade and he is the top of his class. He wanted to be a lawyer. And for a lot of the visit, we shared pictures with each other. They have a beautiful family. The dad, again, was out working. But the mom was there with his two little sisters. I’m excited to go back in two years and see the two sponsored kids again!!
The people of Guatemala are amazing and so incredibly generous. I wish I could live down there. The stories we heard were tremendous and the work that Common Hope is doing is awe inspiring and changing lives both in Guatemala and around the world. We get to literally see the world changing for the better down there and it’s a refreshing look to get. May we SHINE our lights in the darkness and help ALL in need.