by Mary Thompson
A Sponsor since 2000, Mary Thompson shared several reflections with us about her visit to Guatemala last fall. Below she describes her visits to New Hope and San Rafael.
On a previous trip to Common Hope with a church mission group, I visited New Hope for the first time — it was a first for all of us. At the time, I think we felt Common Hope’s dream for the village was beyond belief. What a desolate, wind swept piece of property it was then! That day, the small group of workmen hoped to hook up the water system — after weeks of digging ditches and laying pipes — but a hard rain the night before had caved in the sides of their ditches and broken the pipes.
Only a couple of houses had been started at the time. We heard about all the work that was being done to help the prospective families understand what living in a community would involve. These were people who had no experience of living “with” neighbors; life for them had been survival-of-the-fittest in an area overrun with drugs, violence, and burglaries.
While I had followed all of the reports in newsletters since then and was most eager to visit again, I was totally unprepared for what had been accomplished since my last visit. Tears flowed as I stood and looked at beautiful buildings and landscaping. The school was of interest to all of us, of course; it’s a beautiful building and we saw lots of happy children. The first order of the day was to make kites with the help of some of the children — what fun! Then we went outside to fly our kites. We heard about the school program — one that would do any American school proud — and visited several families in their homes. It was a wonderfully full and emotional day.
Another day we visited the town of San Rafael, a more recent project for Common Hope. With a clinic already established [by partner organization El Faro], with several well-trained and committed people on staff, and with Common Hope’s success in other projects, I know the people of San Rafael will soon have education available for all of their children, better homes, medical care, and a brighter life than they have ever known.
We spoke with one San Rafael woman who had worked her sweat-equity hours to get a new home for her family. She told us that her neighbors had accused her of hanging out with the Gringos, but after seeing her beautiful new home they realized it was something they, too, could work for.
Nine days later, Sarah and I came home amazed at all we had seen and done. It continues to be a privilege to make a small contribution to the people of Guatemala.
To read Mary’s first reflection about attending her sponsored student’s graduation, click here.