by Tom StukelLarger Version
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.