Students return from Central America

Memories and lessons that will last a lifetime were gained by six high school kids when they spent their spring break in Guatemala.

Kari Durban (with mike) explains one of the pictures shown on Sunday evening at Kettle River Chapel as six high school students who spent their spring break volunteering at a home for disabled children in Guatemala. From left are Anna Danyluk

Kari Durban (with mike) explains one of the pictures shown on Sunday evening at Kettle River Chapel as six high school students who spent their spring break volunteering at a home for disabled children in Guatemala. From left are Anna Danyluk

It was anything but the typical “what I did on my spring vacation” talk in Rock Creek Sunday night as Lisa Siewert and six high school students recently returned from Guatemala presented a report on their trip to the community.

They travelled to San Antonio Aguascalientes from March 13-24 to work with Hope for Home, a home for children with disabilities. Lisa said the team spent their spring break learning first hand what life is like in the third world.

The evening opened with Pastor Dave Janke of Kettle River Chapel in Rock Creek welcoming over 50 people who had gathered to hear about the trip.

Lisa explained that Guatemala is a very poor country with over half of their children under five being chronically malnourished.

“On this trip we mostly worked with children,” she said. “Some of them were either neglected, abused or abandoned—or the parents just simply didn’t have the means to take care of their children. It was a privilege for us to be able to go to schools and orphanages and feeding centres and villages to help where we could.”

The team included five BCSS students: Anna and Josiah Danyluk from Midway, Kari Durban from Greenwood, John Siewert and Shelby Condon from Rock Creek. Joining them was Langley high school student Elijah Sheremeto who formerly lived in the Boundary.

“The team definitely had to step out of their comfort zone,” noted Lisa. Those at the chapel on Sunday evening were treated to numerous slides of the trip and the smiling faces and bright shining eyes left everyone moved. The team also presented a three-minute skit that they had prepared for the trip.

One photograph showed an outdoor sink that doubles as a place to washes dishes and do laundry and it was reported that most people only have water for part of the day.

“I think that their eyes were opened to reality and they see the reality of their own world a little differently now,” Lisa commented.

They painted, helped bag and deliver food and also did a program, which consisted of face painting, soccer and animal balloons.

On Sunday evening the kids were asked to briefly explain what the trip meant to them.

John Siewert said this was his second trip to Guatemala. His family had come across Hope for Home when they went on a five-month trip to the country a year ago and John was the main motivator for getting this return trip organized. “One of the things that changed for me was that, because we were staying at a home for handicapped people I became a lot more comfortable and familiar with ways to bond with them and bring them joy,” John explained.

“This trip for me was an eye-opener, it was the first time out of country for me,” Durban commented. “It was seeing what an actual third-world country is like. Just helping the children and having the children just let you love them was amazing for me. That was my favourite part—letting all of the children love you and giving you hugs because that is all they wanted from you.”

Anna Danyluk said she learned from the people at Hope for Home to be happy and thank God in all situations. “They were always smiling and always happy and thankful. I really learned to thank God in all these situations too. Try to see the good things and try to be positive and not just find the negative stuff.”

“This was my first time out of country as well,” Sheremeto said. “I learned how to love everyone everywhere and that God helps everyone everywhere.”

Condon said she was moved by how much the little things helped everybody. “It was amazing to see how the simplest things impacted them.”

Josiah Danyluk was struck by how happy the people were down there. “They didn’t have much, and helping them made them so happy. Just like us donating C$10 meant so much for them.”

To raise funds and prepare for the trip the team met monthly since last fall and was involved in a number of fundraisers: helping in the tea garden at the fair, delivering phone books, selling apple crisps at the Christmas craft fair and a bottle drive.

“They were a really amazing group of kids,” Lisa Siewert said of her team. “I am really proud of them and I think as a community we all should be. They were really cooperative. They helped where they were needed and they got compliments from people who normally don’t compliment teens.”

“Thank you for coming and for supporting us in the many ways,” she added. “It has meant so much to the team and the children at Hope for Home.”