by Wendy Vezzosi, sponsor and volunteer translator
During the first week of December, my 19-year-old son Scott and I had the privilege of spending the week volunteering at the Antigua facility. It was an amazing experience for both of us on many levels. I wanted to write a few words about some of the things that made the biggest impression on me.
Handing out much-anticipated sponsor gifts
We were there for the distribution of the Christmas gifts to every sponsored child and family in the Antigua area. All of us know that magical moment when a child opens up a cherished gift, and so just imagine 1,000 delighted and smiling faces as the kids stepped forward to receive a much-anticipated gift from their sponsor. For many of these children, this is the only Christmas present that they will receive. The parents were equally appreciative to have some food staples that they could use to make a holiday meal. Scott and I felt honored and touched to be able to witness something so special.
Being invited into family homes
One of the things that stuck me the most was how grateful the families are for all that Common Hope and the sponsors are doing for them. I visited several families with their social worker, and the people were friendly, gracious and thankful. It was amazing to see first hand the true impact that this organization is having on their lives. We visited one family who were grieving the recent loss of a 90-year-old grandmother. They had built a beautiful shrine for her in their home with an alter filled with flowers, candles and religious icons. They welcomed me into this sacred room and shared their grief. They invited me to come to the funeral later that week and to the celebration of her life. I am a total stranger and just because of my affiliation with an organization that has their well-being at heart, they treated me like family.
Observing letter writing in action
One afternoon I was sitting in the beautiful courtyard at one of the tables set up for the kids to write letters to their sponsors. I was translating letters to bring back to the US, and there was a little boy sitting there with his mother writing a letter to his sponsor. I could just see that he was giving so much thought to this letter, trying to figure out what to say, and taking forever to put it down on paper. I could feel this kid’s anguish, and so I tried to encourage him by saying, “You know, I translate a lot of the letters written by the sponsors to their ahijados, and you have no idea how much the words that you write mean to your padrinos and how thrilled they are to receive your letter.” The boy instantly brightened up, and his mom said,” No, you have no idea how much it means to us to be supported by a sponsor.”
For those of you who have not visited your sponsor child in Guatemala, I encourage you to go if you are able. The experience will be as rewarding to you as it will be to your sponsored child.
To read Wendy’s son Scott’s reflection on their visit, click here.