A snapshot of hope

by Tom Stukel

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I expected my trip to Guatemala would be a bit of a whirlwind experience, with trying to visit so many places in a short amount of time, but it didn’t take long to learn the most important lesson of my trip and be reminded why I do what I do.

The first morning after my arrival, my experience started with an explosion of energy emanating from the courtyard of the school in Santa Catarina. The joy and excitement of the kids playing at recess was so incredible. It took that singular moment to go from a “maybe this is working” mindset to one of a hope-filled future for these kids. My mind starting filling with all the ways these students’ lives will be changed by their education, and what kind of people they will become. Instead of worry, fear, or being overwhelmed by the work ahead, the trip was filled so much more with hope for the future.

This hope was different to me than when I’d thought about our work in a more abstract way. This was a real hope, a gritty and dusty hope, a laughter-filled hope, a boundless energy kind of hope. A hope that’s fueled by a child’s innocence believing that anything is possible and a parent’s wish to do whatever it takes to make his child’s life better. It really does seem that hope is the thing at our core that makes everything possible, and it’s contained in all of the students, teachers, parents, staff, classrooms, schools, and homes that I visited.

My photography is my humble attempt to capture some of that hope—to remind myself of it and share it with others who can’t be there first-hand to witness it.

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11 Responses to A snapshot of hope

  1. Sharon Sams April 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    How wonderful! Thank you for sharing your story and the fabulous pictures.

  2. Laura S. April 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Stunning photos – thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Buck Holzemer April 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    Great stuff, Tom. Makes me want to go back already!

  4. Barb Olson April 18, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Wonderful photos & I loved the story you wrote with it.
    The children are wonderful & worth whatever it takes to give them a good education.

    I have 2 sponsored students that my daughter & I visited high on their mountain in 2009. Their home was washed away in the mud slide last June & they’ve had to relocate. Thanks so much to bring it all back.

  5. Rita C April 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    Enjoyed your picture story,Tom.

  6. Lori Radecki April 19, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Amazing pictures Tom. You have captured the essence of Common Hope!

  7. Amy Tronson April 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Thank you so much for your pictures! I was in Antigua, Guatemala when you were there taking pictures in the library with the children. They were super cute!

  8. admin April 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to look at the photos and read my reflection. It was great to have a chance to share. More to come from my trip in the future as well.

  9. Dave Schmid April 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Thanks for the great photos, Tom. Common Hope has lit a fire for learning in Guatemala. My prayer is that it spreads like the Pentecost!

  10. Sally Thomas April 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Thanks, Tom, for your wonderful photos, and also for your words, which were just as beautiful.

  11. Susan Montauk July 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    I so enjoyed your photos. They took me back to my last visit to a school in Antigua during my “work trip” in early 2000. Back then there were just a few classrooms locally that were receiving support fro CH. My, how things have changed!

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