There are many things that I will remember for the rest of my life from this service trip to Guatemala. I felt heartbreak, hope, and gratitude. Here are a few of the memories that I will keep with me.
One of the first things I noticed were the animals. There were so many dogs in the streets, especially in Guatemala City. Almost all of the dogs were skin and bones, even the ones who had families, but they were also homeless. I’m a huge animal lover and seeing dead dogs just lying on the side of the street not just in or beside but also in piles of trash will haunt me forever.
On one of the days we spent at Safe Passage we met with the abuelas. In Spanish abuela means grandmother, in this case to the kids in Safe Passage.
We had a question and answer panel with some of the grandmothers. They taught us Mayan and Spanish and in return we taught them English. They told us about Creamos, which is a program for the mothers and grandmothers. They also explained that Safe Passage and Creamos is a fabulous program for them to get education and a new beginning.
After we left I felt hopeful that these amazing people are getting a second chance.
On the same day we talked with the abuelas we had another Q&A with some of the mothers who had kids in Safe Passage. One of the women who came in immediately stood out to me. I wasn’t sure why until she started talking. She told us that when she was a little girl her alcoholic father abandoned her, then when she got older her mother also abandoned her. By the time she was 16 she was living on the streets and that broke my heart. A month after I turned 11 my alcoholic father also abandoned me but thankfully I have my mother. After hearing her speak I felt a connection with her. When going into this, I didn’t think I would connect so deeply to someone whom I had never met. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.
When we arrived in Boston from Guatemala, I felt immense gratitude for this experience. Thank you to all of the people who went to Guatemala with me. Thank you, especially to Nancy, because you stayed with me at the hotel when I was too sick to go to safe passage. You made it easier on me and you brought me the best chicken soup I’ve ever had. And, of course, thank you Carie. When I was sick and you video chatted me, that made me so incredibly happy and it really brightened my day. And, thank you the other youth who went on this trip with me. You all made me feel at home, when I was over 2000 miles away from my family.
Thank you to everyone in this congregation, because if it hadn’t been for all of you and your generous donations, I wouldn’t have been able to go.
In a nutshell this experience changed my life. I felt sorrow because of how horribly people and animals were getting treated.
Hope, because we got to have the opportunity to help change that. And I will be going back to Guatemala to help the kids and animals there. And, finally gratitude for all of my friends and family who went with me on this trip physically or in my heart.