Monday, March 29, 2010

This Weekend Flew By: Part 1

I think this weekend went by faster than any two days in Guatemala have. It was a busy, exhausting weekend full of very cool, very different, very eye-opening experiences, and it was definitely a quality NPH weekend. :)


At NPH, there is a group of 11 older kids who make up our Liderazgo, or Leadership, Group. They're the leaders of the house, which means they organize activities, talk about what changes they want to see in their home, and take advantage of a lot of really cool opportunities -- just for them.

Recently, a donation arrived from Germany, and the donor specified that they wanted NPH Guatemala's children to use the money to do something for a community outside of NPH. It's a cool concept. Of course, the NPH house could use that money, everyone knows that. But these 11 kids could also really benefit from the unique opportunity to learn about another Guatemalan community outside of their NPH bubble, to organize a large-scale service project, and maybe most importantly, to realize just how much NPH is changing their lives.

On Saturday, I joined the Liderazgo Group on the 3-hour trip to the department of El Progreso. El Progreso is located in what's called Guatemala's "Corredor Seco." It's a strip of land in Guatemala that receives the least rainfall every year, and this past year has brought a dangerous drought. It's an area of the country with the most severe hunger and nutrition problems.

Saturday's trip was just to meet with some local church leaders and figure out what projects they needed most. The Liderazgo Group received a ton of information on the community and its needs. Over the next few weeks, they'll make a plan for the donation money, and on April 17, we're all headed back for visit #2.

It might not have been the most eventful trip, but I loved everything about it. I hadn't had much contact with the kids in Liderazgo before this weekend, and they were just awesome. They're in middle and high school, and it was amazing to watch them ask questions about El Progreso, its people, and its problems as if they were full-grown adults. They were also so fun to share a crowded 3-hour bus ride with: giggling and taking embarrassing photos of each unfortunate napping soul. Hanging out with them all day just kept making me think, it's no wonder these kids have been chosen to be NPH's leaders. They're awesome.

It was also a day of being in awe of the NPH organization. During the meeting in El Progreso, one of our boys asked a question about how many times a day the children in the community eat. The priest answered with something along the lines of "Who really knows, but it's definitely not 3 times a day. Maybe once if they are lucky." Then another boy asked if they needed toiletries like shampoo and soap, and the priest replied "Not really. The people here only bathe when they have time. It's not really a priority."

I'm not exactly sure what the kids were thinking as they listened to that, but for me, I had this shocking realization. Just a few years ago, every kid at NPH might very well have been a child of the El Progreso communities -- not having enough food, water, anything. Fast forward a few years, and 11 of these kids (clean, well-fed, leaders of their school and home) are sitting around me  in a circle proposing a several thousand dollar service project. It blew my mind. The way NPH has changed their lives is just staggering.

When you first get here, you can't believe how pretty NPH's buildings are, and the quality of the food, and the programs and clubs in the school, and the trips the kids take. But, after three months of living here and making it your home, you start to forget how crazy that all is in one of the poorest countries in Central America. On Saturday, it was good to be reminded.

No comments:

Post a Comment