Monday, March 2, 2009

They have a Big Heart

So here it is. The small community HOURS away from the capital, Guatemala City, and what seemed like forever up and down dirt roads from the city of Jilotepque.

I dont know if I can put what I was feeling into words at this exact moment properly...but of course Ill try.

The last few times that I visited a Plan sponsored community I was with some Plan people and usually some local officials. When we arrived at the community itself we met with some of the members of the communities and some volunteers. They told some stories and did some business and then we were on our way. This time was DIFFERENT.hahahah...

So when we arrived I noticed the school off to the right and then I saw nothing but people. People looked like they were so packed into the school yard they had to sit on the fence. It looked like people trying to get into a 49ers game at Candlestick. There were people everwhere. I was soooo nervous. I think I sat in the car for an extra second or two and didnt move. I had no idea what was going on. Ann was sitting next to me and she gave me this look that said...ok Aaron...dont freak out here... Shes the best. She gave me a quick pep talk...ok alright alright...were here...she said THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN. What did I get myself into I thought but then I calmed myself. I told myslef to make it fun. Go with the flow. Have fun with it and make this an experience that Ill never forget. I eventually looked at Ann and said somehting like...alright..lets do it...with a chuckle.


There must have been 300 kids there at least. Maybe more. On top of that ALL the moms from the village where there. They stood behind the kids holding babies with there traditional dresses on while trying to cram under a dead looking tree for some shade. This was overwhelming but so fun. When I entered the yard the kids spread quickly away. This was totally crazy. They were staring and whispering and checking out Ceasar and I. Of course they were a bit shy but eventually they got on with it. You can see Aiden in this pic. I dont think he was worried about any of it. Hes a champ!

Here are some of the children from the village. Wheres Merdardo?

It was crazy at first. Like I said there were kids everywhere. It seemed like they would get close but then when I went to talk to them they would giggle and run away. And then a new group would get close and do the same. I finally got some of the boys rounded up for a quick picture. The first part of the day was an opportunity for me to just take a look around.

Like I have said in some of the past posts this community is facing a serious challenge because there more children than can fit into the school. At this current time there are about 400 kids and only 2 classrooms. The classrooms only hold about 23 kids each. You can do the math here. They have a serious problem. On top of that they all WANT to go to school. They know and understand how important it is. Last year, of course this same problem was happening, and they only had 1st grade to 6th grade. After that they were working in the fields or doing whatever there parents had them do. Collecting water all day or in most cases firewood. All of these children want to go to school but the school simply isnt big enough for them. They want a better future.

Bring out the dancers!

This visit was a HUGE deal for the school and the entire community. The schedueled some traditional dancing for the event. When I went to the back I found these guys getting ready for there big day.

The children are so cute. The teachers had them line up in there grade. The kids keep pushing closer to get a better view of the event. They took off the entire day of school just to see the crazy guy whos riding his bike across 8 countries to help build them 2 new classrooms. Behind the kids were the moms and in the back were all the cowboys. They didnt move or say anything at all. They were quite intimidating really. Just watching and checking the whole thing out.

The Mayors wife was also there. She eventually had an opportuinty to talk. She told the community that the governement is doing their best to help and she also thanked me for my time and efforts.

Can you see the cowboy hats in the background?

Has anyone heard the Guatemalan national anethem. This song is like 10 minutes long. hahahah.
3 of the children from the school who have been elected to the school council get the privlage of brining out the country flag. A very big honor!

This particular child came up to present a song or some type of poem to the community. The one thing that struck me here was at the end of the song. He told his classmates to make the best out of life. Life is short, he said. Ya little guy, your is short. It was very inspirational to hear.

Here, Hellen is giving a speech about what Plan has in store for this particular comminuty. Hellen wanted to let eveyone know that Plan is here to help but Plans main objective is to help the people of the communities to help themselves. Education is key to success.

Here is the Plan worker that actually comes out to the village. He knows the people and understands the struggles and challenges that they face. He wanted to let them know that Plan is there to help and that Plan wants to help educate and promote safety and protection for the children.

Bring on the dancers. This was amazing. These little girls are wearing the traditional dress and they had a small routine for the guests. I was front row center and it was a special dance. There skirts are hand made and absolutly beautiful.

The little cowboys are all ready as wellª

So here I am....My turn....

I was a bit nervous about doing this but I was also excited at the same time. I thought that this was such an amazing opportunity to talk to the people of the community. I told them a bit about what I was doing and where I was going. But overall I wanted to say that the people of this community have big hearts...thats what I saw on this day...and thats whats important....

They also put down pine needles on the ground. Its a very old Mayan tradition thats supposed to set a good feeling on a very important day.

Some of the kids looking on as I talked.

A picture of the place where the teachers prepare a snack for the kids during school. Much different than the cafateria from Harding Elementary school where I went back in El Cerrito, CA.

Peace, Pwer and Pedal


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