Elysia Garcia visited Guatemala earlier this year with her two sons, Avery and Cole. She served as a short-term volunteer, offering her skills as a bilingual preschool teacher, and along with her boys had a chance to visit sponsored student Dina. Elysia was very touched by the experience, seeing our programs in action and visiting her sponsored student with her sons. The trip made a great impression on her sons as well—Cole so much that when he turned seven shortly after returning to the States, he asked for donations for Common Hope instead of gifts at his birthday party.
When asked what she enjoyed most about her experience in Guatemala volunteering, Elysia said she enjoyed making relationships with the teachers and children that she worked with, including children of employees and affiliated families. Elysia mentioned one teacher in particular, Claudia, who was interning in the preschool while she was there. Claudia explained to Elysia that she was finishing her degree to be a teacher and that she was from an affiliated family.
“To see the high degree of pride in her accomplishments and her positive feelings of how Common Hope helped her and others was wonderful to see. I saw this same appreciation of Common Hope from affliated families many times during home visits. I saw such pride in teens who put in sweat equity to help their families from a little preschooler proudly saying her sisters were helping paint the building to a teen who gave us a tour of the family house built by Common Hope on his and family members hard work.”
When asked what she would say to anyone who might be considering volunteering at CommonHope, Elysia said,
“It is a very positive, full experience. I am very impressed by Common Hope and how they work with families. The experience will stick in your heart through the relationships and having your eyes opened to so much.”
Elysia sent a note with donations shortly after Cole’s birthday party. She said Cole was so inspired by visiting Common Hope in Antigua and meeting his “pen pal” Dina that he came up with the plan for birthday party donations while still in Guatemala. As they loaded a handful of gifts in the car after the party, Cole said, “I hope I got more money (for Common Hope) than presents!” Wrote Elysia, “I am very proud of Cole, just turning seven, for learning to help others, and thankful to Common Hope for the opportunity to have this lesson.”
Thanks so much to Elysia, Cole, and Avery for your generosity for children and families in Guatemala. It makes a real difference in their lives.