Sara Corsaro recently volunteered at Common Hope in Guatemala and became a sponsor of two teenage girls in the Antigua area. Below are her reflections on the experience, shared with Ellie, our volunteer coordinator.
What did you expect before you got to Common Hope in Guatemala, and how did the reality compare?
I was not sure what to expect. I was hopeful that Common Hope made an impact and that I would be able to make some sort of difference. What I observed and experienced exceeded my expectations. I saw firsthand how effective Common Hope is. I watched how affiliated families are treated by the doctors and staff in the clinic and noted the quality of the care and attention that the kids in the child care center receive. I felt like I actually was helpful—through various tasks—and truly got to know the Guatemalan culture.
Why did you decide to sponsor before/during your visit?
I wanted to maximize my experience with and understanding of Common Hope. Once I understood how sponsorship works, I was keen to get involved as a sponsor. Given I was spending time at Common Hope as a volunteer, I sought to sponsor girls who were relatively local so I could spend time with them. It was also important to me to sponsor teenage girls, as I feel that young women around the world can always use mentoring and encouragement.
What did you enjoy most about your experience as a sponsor?
I enjoyed spending time with my sponsored children. This allowed me to understand more what life as a Guatemalan teenager is like. It enabled me to observe how they live and what aspirations they have. I told them about my life and encouraged them to continue to study. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet my sponsored children. It created a bond that I believe will assist us stay in touch across the miles.
If you could sum up what you learned in your time here, what would you say?
My experience at Common Hope gave me a wonderful overview of what life for the average Guatemalan affiliated family is like. It reminded me that throughout the world, regardless of socio-economic levels, most people want the same things for their families—health care, security, love, education. I was very pleased to learn that certain organizations like Common Hope can have a profound impact on less-fortunate families. I saw firsthand how a nonprofit like Common Hope can make a real difference in the life of a child or parent. In addition, as a volunteer, my Spanish improved tremendously! Thanks to the kids in the child care center, I now am fully versed in colors and numbers, and as a result of my time in the clinic, I now possess some medical vocabulary in Spanish. That was an unexpected bonus.