Earlier this month, the New Hope community came together to celebrate two milestone anniversaries.
Hosted and emceed by the young adults who live in New Hope, the anniversary activities were truly a celebration of el poder de la comunidad – the power of community!
Renato Westby, Director of Education, has a long history with the community. As someone who served on the original community planning and development team 20 years ago, he witnessed the progress firsthand. “It was so amazing to see the first kids who attended New Hope School today! Today they are adults with kids of their own. Their outlook on life is so much more optimistic than their parents’ was and they bring a fresh energy and vision to the community,” Renato remarked.
Preparing a Covid-19 safe activity was no small feat. As a part of the evening, a special tribute was included. Each family in New Hope created a poster that represented their favorite part of the community. The posters were displayed outside of their homes for a “parade of homes.” Then, Rebecca Sanborn, Country Director, selected three messages to highlight at the community celebration. Click here to see more photos from the parade of homes!
Since its inception, New Hope residents have worked diligently to care for and improve their community. In honor of the special anniversary, Common Hope made a gift to help support a new communal outdoor space for the association. The new space includes a cement floor and trees for reforesting the green space. The renewed space, the camaraderie shared between neighbors, and a bright future define the New Hope community.
Elsa García, Director of New Hope School, has worked in the school for 14 years and knows the community well. “New Hope is a family-oriented community with strong ties. It has its own challenges and neighbors have their differences, but they share a commitment to progress and willingness to work together,” said Elsa. She continued by saying, “Families are achieving their goals, improving their homes, and former students are supporting current students with after school jobs and volunteer programs (prior to the pandemic). All of this has led to greater development for the families.”
Want to visit New Hope in 2021? Common Hope is celebrating the New Hope anniversaries with a very special day trip to the community in early November. This trip will be part of this year’s Día de Colores – Power of Hope Celebration Event November 3-7, 2021. Join us in Guatemala to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the graduating Class of 2021, the 35th Anniversary of the organization, and New Hope anniversaries. Learn more about the trip and register to attend!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF NUEVA ESPERANZA (NEW HOPE)
In late October of 1998, Hurricane Mitch swept through Central America devastating parts of Guatemala and displacing more than 700,000 people. In one particular village where the impoverished people were forced to live on the steep sides of the ravines, mudslides caused many of their homes to be wiped away in an instant.
The staff at Common Hope knew they had to help, but rebuilding homes on the same ravines would only result in another future tragedy. Instead, they formed a plan in the spring of 1999 to build an entirely new community for these families. Through a series of alliances, the organization purchased 35 acres of land. This peaceful parcel became known as Nueva Esperanza, or New Hope.
Over the course of the next several years, hundreds of volunteers from the U.S. worked alongside staff members and the construction crew to transform the land into a village. In 2001, the first homes were built. Since then, families worked volunteer hours to complete their agreement with Common Hope, which allowed them to own their land. In 2016, all families completed their hours.
As families settled in New Hope, a need for a school became apparent. In 2003, Common Hope began construction of a permanent school, which would be owned and operated by Common Hope. In 2006 the school officially opened its doors to 200 students. Over the last 15 years, the school has grown to serve more than 500 students each year. What’s more, students at New Hope are graduating high school at a rate of 77%. This is a staggering number when compared to the national graduation rate in Guatemala of just 18.6%.
Twenty years later, what was a tragedy is now a celebration as the community gathers to commemorate these milestones!