Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Buying toothpaste and it says 14 Q. Response: "What the heck? 14 bucks for toothpaste?!" Oh wait, that is only like 2 dollars.

You walk down the block and there are dogs everywhere!!! Then, you look on top of a house and the dog is just chilling up there. How do they get there?.... There are many that seem to like that spot :)

You are waiting for the bus and suddenly, what seems like a mini van, stops right where you are and they are practically pushing you into their van. Mind you, there are already ten people already there. It is packed! The guy that lures you in assures you there is space as he is holding on to the opened van door when he pulled up. Suddenly, ten more volunteers fit in that microbus. He unfolds 3 hidden chairs on the side. How do you fit?! That is part of the experience.

Bus drivers are, by far, the best and worst drivers! They can drive through two semi-trucks, while curving around pedestrians, and making narrow turns. Not to mention, they go 60-80 miles per hour. SICK!

Restaurants in Chimal:
Do NOT ask for the menu! THERE IS NO MENU! haha. Also, it is always the same food- pollo o res- in different variations.
As far as prices go, some restaurant workers charge what they think they can get from you. I.e.: "17 Q para ti, oh y tu? umm... 15Q,etc" It is quite funny.

" Cat calls"
Whistling and beeping is common, but even more common is calling you by making a "ch-sh-ch-sh" sound. It sounds like a call for a dog, but that is how they call your attention. (They even do it amongst each other- it is a form of "hey, you!"

Little bike-cars that have a big cardboard or wooden box around them with ads and huge speakers on the top with music, or a deep, vendor voice convincing you that he has the best deals! Our common and favorite one is the one early in the morning that says: "zeta gasssssss" repetatively in a creepy voice.

Meetings with directors:
-They are in the middle of an important conversation and their phone rings- and they pick it up and start another conversation. When they are done they apologize and continue with your conversation.
-When you set appointments they show up late. Their time frame is different....

Katchikel kids:
They admire us! They run up to us and hug us or wave like if we were celebreties :)
They sometimes ask how to say a variety of random, English words. They are CUTE!

Friday, May 15, 2009

First Week

Th, May 7

We went to look at different projects that we can work on.

In zona 1 there are many NGOs- ACIDICO, SHARE, and many more that work with kids, education, women´s rights and self esteem, nutrition, and orphanage that reunites families, and gang prevention.

The following is our encounter with two organizations, ADICACH and Projecto Ninos de Guatemala:

ADICACH- foudned by Eladio who is Guatemalan and has a wife that is indegenous and speaks more Katchikel than Spanish. They live in Cerro Alto-up in the mountains and secluded from chimaltenango (rural area). It was a beautiful place. The houses are all close together, not built with any strong materials- they were all creative though. Also, the people there have a farm lifestyle, and are really hard workers.
Kids go to school until 12 or 2pm then they come and work till dusk.
Parents either serve the community like Eladio, or just try to make a living and work really hard for their kids. It is a beautiful and humble place.
ADICACH just started with an adult illiterate group and then motivated them and empowered them to plant crops, trees- citrus and environmental trees- roses, and medicinal plants. He then teaches them to become literate with the help of volunteers and locals, and also teaches them about agriculture, squarefoot gardens, and more. He teaches them how to live better lifestyles, live healthy, make a living, and get an education (kids and adults).
He meets with leaders of different pueblos and recruits the community to participate in this. He also has so many innovated ideas, to have a library so kids dont have to go to CHimaltenango (20-40 min away by car) by foot to do hw.
He also produces all-natural products himself and sells them such as medcine, shampoo, and lotion. The family has a mini doctors office out of the pills he makes out of medicinal plants. It helps the community because alot of times they die or go through pain or it becomes inconvenient for them to go to the hospital. In addition, the wife works with women to increase their self-esteem and talents making huipiles- the traditional clothing and many arts and crafts. Furthermore, he also wants the kids to have English classes, also teaching them values.
It is amazing what he does! We learned so much and we have not even started helping yet.

The other project is founded by Guillermo, who is a returned missionary that is a native Guatemalan. He came back and volunteered for orphanages here. Then, the orphanges were closed due to illegal adoption. All the kids that grew up together, that he grew to love, were seperated. He made it a point to get permission from the government to make an organization for orphanages, but with a different perspective in mind. He actually wanted to use the churhc and his efforts, and the govt to help reunite the kids with families. First, he wanted to find all 7 kids that were seperated earlier on when he volunteered- AND HE DID! Now, the government gives him kids that are taken away from families due to abuse or death or bad living. The kids range from ages baby-16. They are adorable. They all went through so much, but they are happy kids and they love having volunteers come play with them.

It is amazing hearing these uplifting stories!

Fri, May 8

I forgot to mention, we went to Antigua to go dancing. It was not as bad as you would think. We had two local friends Guillermo and ALejandro who took us and went with us. We got there at 8:30p and it did not open till 9:30... when we got in, we were the only ones there. We had a blast. Slowly, more people came but they all just sat and watched us. Then, as it got later it got packed! We left like at midnight! It was a blast. Oh, and ladies got free drinks. Guess what we got? A nice, big water bottle :)

Sat, May 9

AM- watched orphanage kids play in a soccer team. It was their first time in a real team and playing with each other. They ranged from ages 8-10 and 1 or 2 12 year olds. Their opponents were way bigger, older, and better trained. They were also well equipted, while our team came to play in jeans, broken shoes, and shoes of all types.... In the end, guillermo did buy them nice jerseys :) It was fun to watch the kids follow the ball. Their golie played a major role in the game, but they were still beat 5-0.

Sun, May 10

Beautiful seeing some in ropa tipica, some in church clothes, and some of the orphans we are working with.
It was an outdoor church, It is nice!
People so nice and welcoming!
Quick story-One lady was excited to see us. She came told us that she needed help with some kids in her neighborhood ranging from 7-12 years old (girls and guys) whose mom died and dad is an alcoholic. They are living independently and being involved with street kids. It was sad, but it happens so much from what we noticed!
WE went back home and it was peaceful.

Mon, May 11
Visited SHARE
Problem- kids going to school with no food, older kids (16) still in 3 grade, more guys in school than girls, and older kids go to city and are introduced to drugs, gangs, etc. With moms- bad nutrition, no education, malnourished.
What they do? Go to KAtchikel villages and have brunch for kids, 50-50 boys and girls involvedWhat we can do? Teach English or nutrition, help make gardens for parents and older kids to take responsibility, weigh babies, teach nutrition, take census in villages about nutrition, and more.....
Jose-director has lived through the civil war and earthquake of 1976- wow!

Tue, May 12-Wed May 13
At this point many of our volunteers were stricken with "The revengae of Montezuma" if you know what I mean- if not, well, it is not fun!
The rest of the group went to Katchikel villages, saw schools and visited with kids.

CEADEL- help women`s rights (labor) and involve kids in community and arts to stay away from gangs

Th, May 14
Rose Foundations- founded by Julio
This is a Mesoamerican school (bilingual).
It started slow, but it is now well funded.
Many of the kids come from the poorest of the poor, but they are not spotted.
In this school they all have an equal opportunity to learn.

Overall, the stories seem to be the same- suffering, poverty, malnourishment, and more. Yet, there are so many natives that are such innovative leaders. They dedicate themselves so much to their community and are just such a great example of service and charity.

I have been enjoying hearing stories and observing this environment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Our team this year is made up of our wonderful country directors: Sean and Melissa- two opposites that work so well together and help us explore, laugh, and share thoughts and ideas.

Then, we have 9 girls and 1 boy (not including the country directors).
Here are a few descriptions of our team members:

Melissa: She likes old men with no teeth. She dances to all the music playing in the tiendas, more specifically the pharmacy `bomb` music! She is always relaxed and optimistic.

Sean: Also known as John, Juan, Juancho! Saves all the bugs when we try to kill them. Handiman.Makes us laugh.

Josie: Has been to Guatemala before. Knows the streets of Chimal (Chimaltenango). Never gets sick. Sweet and willing to help.

Kim: Can say the smallest phrase and get us all to laugh for no reason. CUTE!

Elizabeth: Attracts Guate boys instantly. Dedicated and Sweet!

Krysta: Originally from Guate. First time back since she was 7 years old. Likes to laugh, joke around, work hard. She wants to carry, hug and squeeze (with love) all the kids and the elderly.

Stephanie: Our Canadian! She does not speak fluent Spanish, and does not understand much, but she is so willing to help and dedicate herself to the people.

Dana: Concentrates so hard when we meet with directors, and they are speaking in Spanish. She has tons of energy! She is all about working and having fun.

Amber: Loves learning and being natural! Honest with people.

Kelli: Always laughing :) She can lighten up the room instantly!

Leah: You have to see her hand expressions, they will blow your mind! Talkative and fun to be with.

David: The one and only boy partering with Sean to play tricks on the girls. Just kidding! He is very caring and a great listener.

Hope you can know us that much better with just a few words.

Stay posted for more to come!