Service Trip 2012

A reflection by Linda Elder

FOG service 2012In August of 2012, I was given the wonderful opportunity to travel to Guatemala City to help Colegio Hope, a school in one of the squatter communities. I planned to go there with a team to serve the teachers and the students there. I was not prepared for what I saw. I followed our group down a dirt covered railroad track corridor lined on either side with tiny make shift homes. People were looking out at us, wondering who we were. But between us, something we shared were smiles. As we approached the school, I heard cheering and saw waving balloons. Boys and girls, from the school, lined the corridor to greet us. Tears filled my eyes as I saw this beautiful sight amongst the overwhelming poverty.

The next few days, I immersed myself in the experience. I documented what life was like in the classroom at Colegio Hope. I met the wonderful teachers who pour their heart out daily to educate these children and give them hope for their future. I was thrilled when they asked me to partner with them in the classroom. I was able to help teach English in one class. I helped several classes write letters to our school, Fuller Elementary, in Raleigh. I saw first-hand the quality of education these students were receiving even with the limited resources.

On the Tuesday we were there, the women in our group helped the teachers take the 4th, 5th and 6th graders on a field trip for their physical education. Being a teacher assistant myself, I have to say that was the most fun I have ever had on a field trip. There were no arguments, no sore losers; the children follow directions. It was so obvious they were happy to be there.

On Wednesday, the children did a presentation on the 15 departments of Guatemala. The children displayed food, clothing and resources from their particular departments. Their knowledge of their departments and the quality of their projects were amazing.

I wanted to find a way to develop connection or partnership between Colegio Hope and other schools in the United States, like Fuller Elementary in Raleigh. I thought the one group of people who would understand the teachers at Colegio Hope would be other teachers. So I took my documentation and created a 6 part video series called, “The Guatemalan Experience”. I wanted to find a way to support the teachers by helping the charity “Friends of Guatemala” (the charity that supports the school directly). Through the viewing of the “Guatemalan Experience” several projects were created at Fuller Elementary. Mrs. Kebker’s first grade class created “Coins for Colegio Hope” through which they raised over $1200.00 for the education of the children at Colegio Hope. My dream is this to continue in other schools in the United States. My e-mail is lelderforcolegiohope@gmail.com.

I cannot stress enough the importance of this work and the importance of supporting these wonderful teachers. They are doing such a tremendous job of educating these children to break the cycle of poverty in their lives. Without Colegio Hope, these children would have no hope. Please support and partner with “Friends of Guatemala” to continue to give the children of the squatter community hope and a more promising future.