Dear friend,
Today was one of the harder days to be in. We got to see some of the EducArte kids’ homes. It was difficult because one of the two houses we saw was just made of tin, just one room for everyone and everything.  The kitchen and bedroom were next to each other. When I first walked in, I saw a baby swing. I felt as if the family were drowning and I couldn’t tell them to just stand up. Today I saw a man cry, but it was the kind of crying that when you look away, you cry more. It’s weird because I’ve never felt like this before, like I can’t breathe.

The second house held fifteen people and six cats. The stairs that one would take to go up were so steep. One of the women who lived there recently lost her husband, which was really heartbreaking.

These people are living in places that we would call disasters, but they would call home. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like this.

Hush, hush children
You’ll be alright
It’s okay, you’ll be fine by the end of tonight
Just hold my hand tight and never let go
And we’ll be alright.

Love always,
— journal entry written by Sophie, international traveler and CELC student

The tears of a man far past his age ran down a face long battled with stress and pressure, a home where sun shines through a smoky haze of burnt plastic and leaves, a family tied together by the gracious nature of the kind, impressive family. I wonder how someone can be so infuriatingly close … but so far away from what we as humans strive for. I am deeply humbled by what I saw today and vow never to forget.

People need to know what can be done. I think of the ratio $1 : Q7.5 , $12 = 100 Quetzales, but somehow the people in need overlooked when your husband dies and leaves you with four kids and six cats – who will pay the bills? U.S. citizens could easily pay, but yet they don’t. Why is beyond me, but all I know is that we need to help those who can’t help themselves. Donate for you, donate for the world.
— journal entry written by Jakob, international traveler and CELC student

Today was a very interesting day. Breakfast was French toast, finally something I normally eat. I was still feeling terrible because of the altitude – I was weak and with a headache.

We met up with the Guatemalan art children to go paint in the park. We got to see the central park and the people there. We painted letters L I B E R T A D, which will be sewn later into a quilt to promote EducArte program.

My most sinking part of the day was when we went to see where most of the kids who participate in EducArte live. Their houses are made out of cement bases and metal scraps. These people have nothing, and I don’t think they’re happy.

— journal entry written by Nolan,  international traveler and CELC student

Today was a tough day. I had another great breakfast and morning. And then I went to church for more than one hour. The most important part of the day was when we went and saw what real poverty looks like.

We first went to the home of a former EducArte student. I hopped out of the van and looked around. What I saw was a normal street. I walked up the hill, and I saw more and more lost dogs. Then the road ended, but there were still more buildings. I just kept walking, and eventually we got to the house. I saw a brick building and a smaller building built off it. The smaller building was just scrap metal and wood put together. I thought the side building was just for storage. But when everyone started going into it, I realized it was a home.

I walked in and saw a baby swinging in a baby seat; the seat was tied to the wall with a rope. There was a man with his family of five – he looked happy and proud of what he had made. He started to talk about his life and what it is like to live like he and his family do. He kept talking and then he started to cry. He said he wanted a real house or a bigger house for his family.

I felt terrible that he knew how rich some people really are and he was stuck with what he had. We did what we could, and we gave them food and thanked them.

— journal entry written by Gabriel, international traveler and Hamden Hall student

Today is our fourth day in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s our last day with the EducArte kids before we go to the lake (I miss them already!) Since today is Sunday, we went to church. The church is just down the street from where we are staying; it is absolutely gorgeous. The walls and ceilings are white, and the ceiling is really high. There are paintings and statues all around of Jesus with his disciples, and the altar is beautiful and so elaborate! I’ve been to church before, but never a Spanish one! Other than the fact that the homily was in Spanish, which was really good to test my Spanish skills, the thing that struck a chord in my heart is the fact that after one of the prayers everyone turned and hugged everyone around them and said, “la paz.” It didn’t matter that none of us knew each other. It just made my heart happy, like the hug and those good wishes might have made someone’s day.

Today we visited two different houses. One was where Tanya lives, and the other one was where Lucretia lives. My parents always say how privileged we are – we live by the water, and our house is insulated, heated, and air-conditioned. I have the opportunity to go to possibly the best middle school in the whole universe, and yet I always just smiled and nodded. Of course, I really and truly am totally grateful for everything I have but today made me open up my eyes and realize how much I truly have.

When we visited Tanya’s house and met her and her family, I was struck by the emotion with which they spoke – especially her dad. When he talked about how hard it was to send Tanya to school because even public school costs Q150 a month, and how he wanted to keep sending Tanya to EducArte but couldn’t because EducArte doesn’t have a building anymore, it really made me want to help.

I think that for my birthday, I’m going to ask just for money so I can donate to EducArte and sponsor a kid. Also I want to help Maria and Melinda start a GoFundMe to raise money for EducArte or to sponsor a kid, and hopefully we can start a Facebook for it, or something like that …

— journal entry written by Sue, international traveler and CELC student

 

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