Today, our day started bright and early with a somewhat traditional breakfast consisting of pancakes, fresh fruit, beans and jam. After making our lunches, we visited una escuela (or school). All of the children were so eager to meet us and were extremely nice and caring—they even gave some of us artwork that they had made! Some of us noticed that the children here in Guatemala were much nicer and welcoming than children of the same age in USA. After visiting the construction of the new school, we returned to the worksite and cemented the floor of our houses. The workers in our group were cracking lots of jokes and threw water on us, but of course it was all in good fun! Afterwards, another group from the USA working for From Houses to Homes played futbal/soccer with us and the workers. We all tried our best and won some of the matches. It was lots of fun! Finally, we returned home in our pickup truck where we all had an exhilarating experience riding on the edge of the pickup truck, it was certainly something we had never experienced before and probably couldn’t have in the US! –Alex Foster, the Bhatt group.
The morning routine is now extremely familiar: wake up, put on work clothes, eat breakfast, make lunch, and walk to the park to be picked up by the other workers. Today, we broke the routine of the rest of the day by visiting the elementary school. We were told that From Houses to Homes is also building a three-story school that will include a tech lab, cafeteria, library and more. The children swarmed us with hugs, handing us baby dolls, finger paintings, and requests to use our cameras. After reluctantly departing, we drove to the work site to make the concrete floor. Before returning to the hotel, we all played soccer with the workers and another group with a close work site. I found myself shying away from the ball rather than going head first like the workers. I finally felt useful to our team when I kicked the ball through the goal, but it didn’t count; I had to have been standing in the yellow circle for it to be valid. I find my classmates and teachers reflecting on the day when we’re travelling in the red Dodge Ram flatbed. Aside from Alex getting hit in the head with a soccer ball, today was full of positive experiences and milestones. I have to admit, writing for a group is difficult; I’m tempted to rant about personal realizations and experiences, but that would be a bad representation of a group. J However, multiple people in the truck commented on the combinations of reactions from the people around us, especially women. People stop to watch us work; some wave with friendly smiles and some give us a skeptical glance as if to say, “What are you doing?…” The same goes for riding in the back of the truck. Ms. Woodall mentioned how we take our freedom as women in the USA for granted. Yes, women still are facing many challenges in the USA and all over the world. However, we discussed how the new school being built by From Houses to Homes will play a role in providing an education and support for families, particularly the mothers and young girls. It’s an empowering feeling to be working with a group that has such beautiful goals. On the way to dinner, I was able to conclude with a few other students that when Saturday morning arrives, we’re going to miss all we’ve learned to love here but will be ready to return to what we miss. A few insane dinners and some sunburn later, I can personally conclude that this experience is the best I have ever had the privilege of to be a part of and have received similar consensus from other girls. J, Kathleen Brody, the Woodall group
Today, as we come closer to finishing the house, we had a change from our normal routine. We started off our day the usual way with fruit and pancakes for breakfast and making sandwiches to have at the worksite. After that we sorted ourselves into two flatbed trucks like usual, but this time we were going to see what else Houses to Homes does. We drove to another small community outside of Antigua like the one we are building in and visited the school there. It was surprising to see that this organization does so much more than just build houses. Seeing how great the school was and how widely spread their help is showed us that From Houses to Homes is trying to improve the lives of everyone in need in Guatemala, not just one group. After getting many hugs, pictures, and artwork from the kids at the school, we went to go see the new building site for an even better and bigger school. It was nice to see all that these kids will soon have the same quality of education that we at Kent Place have. We took another ride in the truck with our friends from the worksite to finish off the work at the house. We worked very hard making more cement and helping pour the floor. With much help and strength from the works, we got it done, leaving only the painting for tomorrow. We ended ou day with a game of futbal (soccer) with the workers and other group. Though the other group was bigger than us, we managed to score some goals thanks to the men from the worksite. After today I feel like I know everyone so well including the Guatemala team and the workers, and it will be hard to say goodbye tomorrow! -Astha Puri, the Stevenson group