Wondering what happened on the 2014 trip to Guatemala? SO MUCH!
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This is the video that was shown at the latest Hopes in style fashion show held this past weekend on March 1st, 2014. Over 300 people attended and over $20,000 was raised for the Potter’s House cause! Thanks!
Here’s the coverage video for Hope’s in Style by 365 Barrington on March 4th, 2014!
Why Houses? Here’s why.
We’ll never “TIRE” of thanking you!
The power of a home!
When you think of Guatemala, what comes to mind? Poverty? Danger? Disease? These were some of my thoughts before I embarked on my journey to help the “treasures” of the Guatemala City Garbage Dump. Since returning from Guatemala, whenever I think of the country the first thing that comes to mind is an eight-year-old boy, Franco Fernando Yax. Franco is a young Guatemalan boy with whom I formed a special relationship through my volunteer work in Guatemala.
The treasures of the Garbage Dump Community scavenge through the trash to find anything of worth that they can sell, reuse, or recycle. These treasures work long hours and only make around three U.S. dollars per day. They are then expected to support their children with this meager income. The children are the third generation of people to be born into this horrific situation and it is extremely difficult to create a life outside of the dump. This summer I was in Guatemala with twenty-six other volunteers from Barrington. Our group built houses, bunk beds, and futures for the treasures of the Guatemala City Garbage Dump. We volunteered through Potters House, a non-for profit organization in Guatemala City whose purpose is to help the people of the Garbage Dump Community. In the mornings, we built houses and bunk beds for the families in need. Then in the afternoons we held soccer camps and dance camps for children in the community. My life was altered during the soccer camp; this is when I met Franco.
On the first day of the soccer camp, as I was trying to process and control all of the chaos, I suddenly felt someone jump on my back and shout “!corre! !corre!” “Run!”
This someone was Franco. After I instinctively obeyed the young boy’s command and ran it soon became apparent that I was in the middle of a game of tag between Franco and his friends. Franco and I were both figuratively and literally inseparable for the rest of the day, he would not get off my back. The constant piggyback ride is how I earned the nickname “el caballo”, the horse, from the Guatemalan boys.
Over the next few days of camp, Franco and I bonded even further. He let me into his life and I let him into mine. We took pictures, wrote letters, and played soccer. Franco brought me to tears with his hysterics and with his depressing situation. Everyday I could not help but wonder where this young, naive soul would be in six months? Five years? Ten years? I did not want to see this jubilant, innocent boy end up scavenging garbage for a few dollars a day or living on the side of the road addicted to drugs. I was not going to let this happen, I just needed to figure out how.
Finally, the grimly anticipated last day of our journey arrived and thus came the hardest part of the trip – the goodbye. However, this melancholy goodbye came with a silver lining. I talked to the Potters House staff and they agreed to put Franco on the waiting list for their youth program. Potters House has a youth program that provides meals, tutoring, and emotional and spiritual support to two hundred children in the community. I was fortunate enough to be able to deliver this news to Franco and his family along with a promise that I will write Franco letters. I can only pray that this will be enough to help guide Franco on the right path out of the Garbage Dump Community and on to bigger and better things.
As I reflect on my journey and the many experiences that I encountered, the question that continually plagues my mind is whether I helped Franco more or whether he helped me more? Franco allowed me to discover something about myself that cannot be bought at the store or taught in school.
Franco assisted me in discovering genuine empathy. His situation helped me treat others’ problems like they are my own and enabled me to feel the pain that another is experiencing.
Franco Fernando Yax, thank you for helping me uncover this previously dormant ability.