Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 2010: Student Team

Hola from Guatemala…

Our journey to Guatemala, along with our time in-country thus far, has slightly deviated from our initial expectations on several levels. The eruption of the Pacaya volcano in combination with the devastating affects of Tropical Storm Agatha told us that good ol’ mother nature had slightly different ideas for the people of Guatemela, and accordingly for our group of volunteers. Both natural disasters, occurring within the week before our scheduled departure, caused an extended airport closure and a three day delay of our flight (not to mention slightly increased levels of nerves amongst our group!) Despite these curve balls, after three extremely long days of waiting in Calgary and checking the news compulsively, we made it to Guatemala.

Upon arrival at Teresa’s beautiful colonial style house, our home for the coming weeks, it is fair to say that any existing nerves were immediately washed away. The next couple days of exploring Antigua reaffirmed everyone’s hopes that Guatemala would be nothing short of amazing. Teresa informed us all that our plans for work had been changed quite significantly. The town we were to be working in, San Miguel Dueñas, was in fact hit hard by the storm, and we would be cleaning up the damage and repairing many homes. Fourteen eager and energetic bodies were going to be of much more use than we had initially anticipated.

We began our work on Monday in an area outside Dueñas that had been severely affected by the storm. While making our way through the streets the extent of the damage became highly apparent, giving everyone a strong sense of urgency to begin repairs. One family’s home had been blocked with a large build up of mud, making access extremely difficult. Our group began by digging up the mud and transporting it out of the area, and covering the damaged areas with stronger dirt to prevent similar problems from occurring again. Since then we have continued working on similar mini projects – transporting mud, removing blockages from streams, and brainstorming preventative ideas in case the rain returns. Luckily we have managed to squeeze in several hours to play soccer with some locals, which really would be more accurately described as getting completely schooled by the kids of Dueñas. However, when the backdrop of your soccer field involves lush green mountains and a towering volcano, one really cannot complain ;)

Our first few days of volunteering in Guatemala have been eye-opening, exciting and highly eventful. I think I speak for the whole group in saying that we cannot wait to see what the next several weeks will bring! Adios for now…

Carla Bitz
DWC Student Team Leader

1 comment:

Mo said...

Hi Carla thanks so much for this great update. So glad you all arrived safely. Here in Calgary we are thinking of you all. You are a wonderful group of yung making a difference.

Take care of each other, Mrs Ng xx00x