Saturday, November 14, 2009
Day one Guatemala
Today is actually day three but I want to backtrack and remember the excitement of each day. So im reporting about the first day, as the title states. Although getting to see my Guatemalan family (Tita, Moshe and Monika plus now other N Americans and some kids) and how much they have expanded in number... :) was absolutely awesome! The experience on the airplane got me thinking even more intensely than the reconnection with people who I know and love.
Each time I arrive in Guatemala there is usually one conversation with a local that stands out in my mind. Saturday it was with a man in his 60's on the airplane. We were over looking the gorgeousness of the mountains which was jaw dropping for me, him and his wife. I had a giant smile on my face and felt extremely grateful that I not only got the window seat, but just for the fact I was actually about to land in Guatemala, see my sponsor child Luky and follow though with my promise to many adults and children in La Limonada.
"Is this your first time in Guatemala?" the man asked me.
"No my third, I have come back every November for the last 3 years."
"Have you been to Lake Atitalan?" he said smiling. "I am retired, I'm from here but my wife and I have a house near the lake."
"No,...I havent bee, not yet. I am here to work in La Limonada." I replied calmly.
Everyone in Guatemala City knows where La Limonada is. Most of the time I hear..."Are you sure your going to La Limonada? You most be mistaken." Later followed by "Thank you for your work in our country. Be careful!" I almost always as them at that point if they would like to come with me for a day to La Limonada. Which gets a laugh or an excuse, but is still an interesteing moment none the less. Im a strong believer that if you dont want to work with kids because you dont like them...DONT, volunteering can be the same way....but sometimes once you get there things can change, kids are freaking amazing....all of them.
This man said nothing, but I watched his smile fade. Uncertain as to why he became silent, I happily told him how we will take the kids out of the slum and to the beach on Puerto de Barros the only water I had been to in Guatemala, for a week of art making, relationship building and fun. He shook his head as to express he did not know where Puerto Barrios was and then turned to look at the TV screen in front of him. I had never experienced a reaction like that and it brought me to wonder... A lot of things about him, his knowledge of La Limonada, experiences etc....But mostely, it brought me to think, what do locals of developing countries NOT living in poverty actually think of the volunteers. Most of the volunteers I have seen are from the US, church groups of some sort. I watched the man's line of site as he stared at the four aged 40-50 something white folks in front of him all dressed in red t-shirts with crosses and huge smiles on their faces. He did not speak to me the rest of the flight.
I have been told that in Guatemala more than 80% of the wealth is in the hands of less than 20% the population. Over 100,000 people are living on less that $1.oo a day ( think this number is actually really low...I will updates it soon). Do I think everyone should volunteer like I am doing, NO. Do I think everyone can help? YES Do I know the solution...Well, only for myself.....and even that I am still learning.
More questions in my head about this topic... so I will get back to you my lovely Blog....
PS The photo is of my very very dear friend Tita Evertsz. She has been a positive light in my life, role model, teacher and friend for the last 3 years. I love her like a big sister. Thank you TITA! Check out how Tita is changing the world here www.lemonadeinternational.org