Saturday, January 13, 2018

God's Will at Work (George de Merlier)

        Well, It's day two in Guatemala for the students of Saint Augustine High School. We had a very productive and successful day for helping the people of Guatemala. On January 12, we first helped develop the walls of a schoolhouse by building support for the walls of classrooms by tying rebar to support the schoolhouse. After we ate lunch, we went on an extensive tour of all of the projects that the mission founded/supports in San Lucas Toliman. Our primary mode of transport was pick-up trucks with large cages built onto the back for additional people to ride in. It was very fun to ride in the back of a pick-up truck, as it allowed us to see more of the beautiful Guatemalan landscape, as well as allowing us to further interact with the people of Guatemala. Small Children would always wave and greet us as we drove by. the first place that we visited was the women's center. The woman's center in San Lucas Toliman provides women with the skills and techniques that enable them to survive and thrive in rural Guatemala. The women's center gives lessons to local women on how to sew, cook, and clean, as to provide them with the skills that will get them jobs. Women need these jobs to support their families because work for the men is not always guaranteed. Some of the women demonstrated to us how they made their beautiful textiles. there is a store attached to the women's center, where the local women can sell their clothing to the people. The women receive all of the money that was gained when they sell their clothes. While the women's center is only a few years old, it has become a wonderful place for women to learn working skills, as well as socialize. After we went to the women's center, we went to a nearby hospital that was started by the mission back in the 90s. To our surprise, the hospital was surprisingly clean, and was equipped with many different state-of-the-art medical devices. The hospital caters to those from all walks of life, especially the impoverished population. The hospital worker who gave us the tour told us that the hospital receives a lot of aid from various doctors and medical groups in the U.S. Some of these doctors who come to Guatemala to help can perform as many has 40 surgeries a day. However, their visits are only a few times a year, and there is really only one doctor in the whole hospital, so the hospital is usually very understaffed. The whole town of San Lucas Toliman, as well as the surrounding communities, depends on the hospital for survival. Next, we went to a coffee plant that is owned by the mission. Juan Ana Cafe, the name of the coffee plant, is named after a very influential priest's parents, who's inheritance enabled the priest to buy land to start the coffee plant. When we visited, we saw how over 100 lbs of premature beans became 12 lbs of pure Guatemalan black coffee that we know and love in the U.S. We even get to drink some of this coffee made here at meals. After we visited the coffee plant, we drove to a school that was also founded by the mission. The same priest who founded the coffee plant also founded the school. The school offers classes from preschool all the way to 6th grade. The school is much cheaper than other schools around San Lucas Toliman. this is especially helpful for families that fall under the poverty line, as education in Guatemala is very expensive, and many people cannot afford to send their children to school. The school offers opportunities for the disenfranchised children in Guatemala. I thought that the fact that the principal and many members of the faculty went to the school when they were young is testament to the school's success, as all of them went to higher education after they went to grade school. The school is giving the people a chance to succeed in Guatemala.

      Overall, we all had a great second day in Guatemala, and we're all looking forward to further work to improve the quality of life in San Lucas Toliman during our trip.

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