Monday, November 23, 2015

Guatemala: San Miguel Dueñas: Saturday November 21 2015

Developing World Connection board goes to Guatemala!
This is a very special volunteer trip including all of DWC's board of directors. We will build and get introduced to several new and exciting Developing World Connection initiatives.  The trip started, as they all do, with a long flight. Then we were arriving in the middle of the night at a simple and unique guest house in Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site - more on this beautiful city later.

Look at how far we've come
Today, Open Windows is a thriving community centre providing education support for 2,600 children. They are taught Spanish, math, computer skills, reading and English (the latter is particularly good when volunteers come). The teachers give homework help and lead afternoon education activities. After Grade 6, children have to pay for school and would be forced by their parents to drop out and go to work  if it were not for the Open Windows scholarship program.

Open Windows serves the whole community with medical clinics, education on birth control and diabetes (50% of the population is afflicted with this disease) and a wonderful library with 10,000 books. In 10 years, more than 20,000 students have passed through the programs, 380 scholarships have been awarded and 140 graduates - so far.

Over the years, more than 30 teams of DWC volunteers have built the school. So it is a very sentimental trip for the board of directors to come and build a kitchen for nutritious meals for the children. There is no stopping the the aspirations of the dedicated and hard working leader of Open Windows, Theresa. The board extends a heartfelt thank you to Theresa and all the volunteers who helped realize the dreams of so many.

Theresa, leader at Open Windows.
Lots of fun and hard work.  The walls are going up.  And for the most part the rain has stayed away.  Amazing to see everyone working together with lots of quips and sarcasm.  This is a team already - and we were totally "cemeted" with our first conga line.

Kym pulling on the gloves, getting ready to work.

Marcia and Lisa sifting dirt.

Janet and Lisa filling a wheel barrow.

Neville and Wayne loading gravel.

Bonnie and Neville

Making concrete.

Bucket brigade, hoisting concrete up the growing wall.

Wayne at the top of the wall.

Maneuvering the wooden beam into place.

Everyone on the trip has lead a team and Joshua is very good natured as we constantly pepper him with the questions we get asked. The gang loved it on the way home when he asked us "What are you in the mood for?" A perfect team leader who wants to keep us happy.

Richard and Dan tossing cinder blocks!

A few memories:
Joshua refused to participate in brick throwing.
Much heavy metal bending!
And of course, we loved all the shaking and making cement.
An excellent lunch with a hibiscus drink. We were spoiled!

The evening capped a terrific first day.  Walking through the exquisite square and looking for a restaurant.  Almost "the third one on the right". Delicious dinner. Some heading for bed. Others partying on a little longer.

Buenos nochez.   
Janet McKelvey,
DWC board member
Guatemala: November 2015  

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