Guatemala Service Learning–Village Visits
On Wednesday our team visited two villages where Common Hope has satellite programs. Nan, Sophie, Ed, Jose, Travis, Gregg and Taylor visited San Raphael and Janine, Dane, Charlotte, Alex, Jay and Jay R. visited San Miguel Milpas Altas.
San Raphael is an indigenous agricultural community northwest of Antigua. There is a clinic there with which Common Hope has partnered and the school is now a partnership school, meaning that a Common Hope educator is in the school, mentoring teachers, teaching class room management and offering teaching resources. In Guatemala, teachers are only required to be high school graduates, and many have little training specifically for their classroom experience.
The day in San Raphael began with a tour of the village and later a visit to a 2nd grade classroom. Our team helped the children make pipe cleaner bracelets decorated with bells and beads. There are three children in San Raphael sponsored by members of Pilgrim, and each of those children received a home visit from one or more members of our team. The children and their families look forward to these visits and they are generally quite fun for both sponsors (or their representatives) and Guatemalan families. Because most of these children have no role models for completing their education, and families often need children to work as soon as they are able, sponsors play an important role in mentoring and modeling the benefits of remaining in school.
San Miguel Milpas Altas is about half way between Antigua and Guatemala City, high on a hill. It is the site of Common Hope´s newest satellite. The team spent time in the 4th grade classroom of the partnership school, helping the children in making a large mural. Afterwards, the team and boys from the school challenged one another to a game of soccer. From there the team went to one of three Common Hope homes in the village to paint. Quarters were tight, but we managed to paint the house in cheerful yellow, red and peach colors! The home belongs to an older couple who are caring for their grand-daughter, a Common Hope affiliate.
After lunch, Janine and Dane visited their sponsored child and the rest of the team helped a family fertilize and hoe a cornfield. There is nothing like even 30 minutes of field work to help one appreciate the physical strength and endurance of Guatemalan campesinos.
Both teams arrived back at Common Hope in the late afternoon. After supper, Tamalyn Guitierrez, the incounty director of Common Hope visited with us and we saw a film about the years of war here in Guatemala. We celebrated Nan’s 50th birthday and gathered around the computer to look at pictures of the floods in Duluth. Pouring rain, washed out roads, and mudslides are part of the rainy season here in Guatemala–this week, the same phenomena is hitting Duluth! Worlds apart? Maybe. Maybe not.