Today was day one of our Guatemala trip. There are 26 people on the trip, which is made up of Mission Network News and 91.3 WCSG listeners. We all met for breakfast at 8:30am. The hotel we’re staying in is one of the nicest hotels in the area. The owners are Christians and they give Orphan Outreach a great rate. So, we stay here. Breakfast is your typical American breakfast — eggs, bacon, french toast, you name it. It was good. Soon after we ate, we met in the lobby for our first stop. We were split into two groups — group A and group B (original names, I know) and boarded our buses. Much of the bus trip was spent shooting pictures.
We traveled nearly 45 minutes to a dump. That’s right, a dump. The reason? To visit a school Orphan Outreach is supporting NEXT to the dump. Because there’s such poverty, people (many single moms) go through the dump looking for anything of value. They collect it and try to sell it to provide for their families. They’re street people. In year past mothers would take their children to the dump. But, now, there’s a school/day care center that’s allowing the kids to go to school, while mom works sifting through refuse. They work hours just to find enough ‘stuff.’ We were told it amounted to nothing more than a $1 a day. A few months ago, there was a collapse in the dump that killed more than a dozen people.
The school is actually run by the wife of the Guatemala City’s Mayor, who is a Christian. It’s a government run school, and Christians are welcome. Obviously the children are very happy. The children are dropped off at school/day care every day. They’re cleaned up, put on school uniforms, given a healthy meal, given a good education and they hear the Gospel by either staff members or volunteers from the local church who are actively involved in the ministry. It costs a parent 50-cents a week to put their child in school here. Since their parents only make about a $1 a day, that’s a significant contribution to helping their kids break the cycle of poverty.
As part of the trip, we spit up into groups to hold a modified daily vacation Bible school. One group told a story about the lost lamb. Another group did games. Another help kids with a craft. They made lamb puppets out of paper bags. And, the final group did a fun activity like painting the girl’s finger nails, blew bubbles or some of us just took pictures of the kids so they could see themselves. Digital cameras were the best invention when it comes to interacting with kids. Most love getting their picture taken. There was lots of laughter and even a few tears when some came to the realization that ‘school’ was actually the only safe place they had each day. This was the place it all finally ‘clicked’ and got ourselves focused on the task ahead.
From there we went to lunch. Then, we traveled to a girls school. There were 200 girls registered, but only 90 were in school today. We were told that gas prices prohibit these girls from coming to school every day. We did similar activities at the girls school.