Reflection: Guatemala mission trip
Two years ago on this day I had the chance to embark on a once in a lifetime journey to NPH Guatemala. It all started back in September of 2013 when I applied to be part of my highschool’s Guatemala Mission Team not knowing what to expect. The team consisted of 50 staff and students from our school board, 10 of which were from my school. For the team of 10 from my school to be able to travel to NPH in March we needed to fundraise over $20,000 in the short time of 6 months. Thankfully through the wonderful support of our school and community we were able to raise all of the money plus some extra which we could donate to the orphanage where we would be staying in Guatemala.
After 6 months of preparation we finally departed to Guatemala where for 10 days I would be disconnected from technology and the busy life I was living. For the next 10 days I would be devoting my attention to something more important than myself, being able to experience something that very few get to. For the next 10 days I would be living in a foreign country where very few speak the same language as me. I would be able to make a difference in the lives of the Kids at the orphanage, no matter how small it might be. I was scared, nervous, excited and pretty much every other emotion as I left Canada.
Our days at NPH usually consisted of a brief spanish lesson in the morning, followed by working in the afternoon, and finally interacting with the children during the evening. Our work tasks were usually one or two of the following: teaching an english class, working in the gardens, painting the buildings, or transplanting grass. My two favourite tasks were painting and transplanting grass. For the painting task we were painting the children’s dorms on the inside and outside of the building. We were using a clear paint, which was actually more of a sealer, to paint the bricks. We did this so that the brinks could withstand the rain during the rainy season, without the sealant they would deteriorate much faster and it costs a lot more to replace the bricks. The other task which I really enjoyed was transplanting grass. To do this we would pick vines of grass from one location in a field and then bring it to a playground where it would be replanted and watered. The grass there grows much differently than it does here in Canada. In Guatemala the grass was almost like a big set of underground vines which would come up in lengths of a couple of feet where it was easy to cut and replant.
In the evening we got to interact with the children of NPH which usually meant dancing or playing football (soccer). We quickly found out that we stood no chance at beating them in a match of football so the teams were usually a mix from kids at NPH and us. It was a lot of fun being able to interact with the Kids at NPH, although we didn’t speak the same language it felt like we spoke the same language. The kids at NPH had very limited access to technology which was shocking to me since my life basically revolves around tech. These kids had big dreams to become doctors and go to college/university even though they have so little. Each of the kids only had a lockers worth of personal belongings and clothing, and they shared rooms of up to 30 kids per room. There were 2 houses: 1 for the boys and one for the girls.
During our day off we got to travel to Parramos, a nearby village. In Parramos we saw the true poverty that the people of guatemala live in. Their homes are made of bricks and mud and their roofs are made of scrap metal if they are lucky. In the villages there are plenty of stray dogs which carry infections and diseases. People usually drink coke because it is cheaper and safer to drink compared to water. They’ve got hardly anything compared to why I have.
Going to Gutatemala was an eye opening experience and made me realize how lucky I am to be able to live in Canada: getting a proper eduction, living in a safe environment, having enough food to survive, being able to use technology on a daily basis. While this post hardly begins to sum up my experiences in Guatemala and I could write about it for hours but unfortunately I must end it here. Feel free to contact me and I’ll gladly talk more about my experience!
Here are some more images from the trip to Guatemala, like they say a picture is worth a thousand words: