Supporters and Donors Thank You Letter:

Spencer White, Joan Williams, Catlin Gabel and Mundo Exchange Conduct Guatemalan Social Service Projects

Spencer from Catlin Gable and friend

Spencer from Catlin Gable and Mayan friend

Dear All,

Mundo Exchange, Joan Williams and I just wanted to write to thank each and every one of you for your wonderful support to the children and families of Chajul, Guatemala. Everyone was so appreciative of your kindness and acknowledgement of their lives.

Together, Mundo Exchange and Catlin Gable were able to bring down over two hundred pounds of school supplies, books, reading glasses, baby clothing, two brand new HP laptops, tooth brushes, tooth paste, lots and lots of hygienic supplies, baseball caps and pullovers from rummage, and a few other odds and ends. With the generous monetary support ($1,600 combined from Catlin Gabel and local Portland donors), we were able to provide the funds for a teacher salary for one year ($1,000), as well as pay the inscription for numerous students attending the local school. All the wonderful reading glasses that were donated are happily and enthusiastically being used by Chajulenses; some who say this is the first time in years they have not had horrible headaches after trying to read, weave or do “fine-eyesight work”. Resulting from their enthusiasm for better eye care, we were able to work with a doctor from the capital, who will be coming to Chajul to run an eye clinic for folks in January, 2008. I dream of one day being able to lead a medical brigade of Catlin Gabel parents, teachers and students to Chajul.

Volunteers Joan, Spencer and supporters on one of their many Mundo Exchange and Catlin Gabel social service projects in Guatemala

Our Catlin Gabel 4th and 5th grade Spanish students will now be writing letters with the public elementary school in Chajul, “Vespertina.” The students there were on ‘vacation,’ most of the boys working in the fields with their fathers. When the word started to spread around town of a possible United States pen pal, the students flocked to the school. Only the first 30 were let in and many were turned away. They wrote to our kids that afternoon and I picked up the letters and took some pictures the following day. The power and impact this had on me is hard to convert to words. It is an opportunity that we are so very lucky to be a part of.

Joan, volunteer life in Guatemala

Joan and I felt humbled to be the “Bridge” between the United States and Chajul. It is always interesting to return to Chajul and observe how life continues to move at a very traditional pace. There is now a paved road in to the town (what once was an arduous twenty-hour bus ride from the capital is now an eight hour trip). Many people have electricity at least part of the day. Running water occurs at least once a day. And, it seems like everyone has a cell phone. However, access to basic medical care, adequate nutrition, education, and occupational opportunities continues to be lacking. This is a community that continues to live in poverty, excluded from many of the developments much of the rest of the country is beginning to appreciate. Chajulenses are a proud people who also continue to adhere to their rich Mayan customs and life style, yet they are excited about the prospect of building new ties with their neighbors to the North.

Our help touched many of the students and their families in the Chajul area. Their smiles were wide and grateful and they say, “Tan Tuish!”

Joan from Mundo Exchange will be going back down in July of 2008 and will look forward to sharing updates with you all!


Spencer White and Joan Williams