Mundo Exchange Guatemala 2011

Volunteer Field Notes Entry 1

Mundo Guatemala are preparing to take off with community development student and teacher volunteers for another service trip in Guatemala. We have partnered with Catlin Gable and Oregon Episcopal Schools to take 13 high school students for a ten day sojourn to Chajul. We have been meeting for a little over 6 months with the students to ready ourselves for the experience. We prepared the students by having them learn about the history and culture of the country. As a group we decided what types of volunteer community service projects would meet the needs of the Guatemalan community. When we were last in Guatemal it was July 2010. Then the children of CEMIK, the small indigenous school in Chajul, asked that we help provide new desks and benches as many have grown to big to fit under their current tables. The US students agreed that they would like to build new furniture for the school. We met a month ago to practice building prototypes and are now readying ourselves for the building project in Chajul. Local community members have donated saws, drills, screw drivers, hammers, etc. for the project and a group is Chajul is currently cutting the trees and readying the wood for our arrival. This project should be quite grand for all involved!

Student volunteers making desks

Small desks, great Guatemalan children

A small Guatemalan classroom needing new desks

Prior to the student’s arrival, Joan from Mundo Exchange will spend a week in Rio Blanco with Sister Evie. Thanks to the generosity of Esther Petrie and Andrew Zechnich, we are taking a much needed collapsible stretcher and several medical supplies to Rio Blanco’s auxiliary fire department.

Dr. Andy helping Guatemalan Families

Living at 9000 feet and far from the nearest hospital, the supplies Esther and Andy have so graciously donated will be put to use immediately. During our last volunteer stay, the health promoter told us that she had recently witnessed the death of a young man who had fallen off a cliff. Because the community did not have a stretcher, they were unable to lift him out in a timely fashion. When they did finally reach him he had succumb. Hopefully all the materials will not be lost during the 8 hour flight down to Guatemala or the 10 hour bus ride to Rio Blanco! Always a concern!

Longwalk for wood, water and food

While in Rio Blanco, Mundo will also be donating the last of a financial sum that is going toward building a new home for Lipita, a 90 plus year old elder who has been living with her daughter and disabled granddaughter in an extremely dilapidated, cold and wet home with muddy floors and cracked walls. The new home will be made of cinder blocks, with a real roof, rather than the makeshift plastic roof. We will also provide a much needed stove. This has been a dream of our friend Sister Evie’s for several years now. With the promise that Mundo would raise funds for half the building cost if the family could raise the other half, the family was able to put together the funds. As Rio Blanco is at 9000 feet and often under blustery clouds, this will be a godsend for the family!

Mundo Exchange helping elders in need

After almost 12 years of living in Rio Blanco, sister Evie is leaving the Mayan and Guatemala community. To be able to access her Medical funds, she may have to live in the States for 6 consecutive months. She has lived in Guatemala, providing needed services to many different communities, since the early 70’s. Returning to the States should prove to be quite a surprising and awesome experience for her with all the changes in technology and culture.We are off tonight. More to come!

Sister Evie a community and religious leader in Guatemala

Volunteer Stephanie, Joan and Mayan friends