Humanitarian Mission Trip to Guatemala, 2012
The CCAMRE teams have done it again!
The rain and treacherous roads didn't stop our mission from travelling to the mountains to help the communities' Mayan Chorti, work on our projects, and achieve the goals we set for this year's mission!
This year we had 16 amazing members who donated time, commitment, love, and talent to make a difference in the lives of the people in the Merendon Mountains of Guatemala.
One highlight of this mission was the beginning of the breakfast program for the school age children of Volcancito. CCAMRE truly believes that nutrition plays a huge part in the development of a child and we feel that this breakfast program will help the school children in their development and learning. This program was under the leadership of CCAMRE’s Director Bonnie Fuller. She helped to teach the mothers how to prepare meals as well as having meetings with the teacher to discuss the new program. We were blessed with a donation from Appleby United Church which enabled us to buy the dishes for this program. We are truly thankful to them. Kitchen equipment was also purchased as needed for this project. The Sponsor A Child program has begun and at the present time we have 24 sponsored children. The sponsored children have received their first “Canasta Básica” which is a basket (Box) filled with school supplies, hygiene items, and food. Also, the sewing team of Volcancito are busy making the uniforms for the sponsored children.
As always the Medical and Dental teams play an important role in every mission because this is the only time that the communities' Mayan Chorti receive medical and dental attention. Julie Cordasco, CCAMRE's Vice President, is an RN who was in charge of the Medical/Dental teams. She did an incredible job co-ordinating this project, attending 627 patients with the Guatemalans doctors. Dr. Keith Millar, Dr. Russell Grover, and Dr. Richard Morris along with help from Eva Pine, Kristina Grover, Heidi Grover, and Ivette Amarilis Galvez Ruiz, a student from the University of San Carlos Of Guatemala, who is doing a 8 month practicum at the Dental clinic in La Union, that was donated by CCAMRE. They worked tirelessly supporting the Dental mission who treated 394 patients, including performing 723 extractions in 8 days.
Andy McCormick, who is CCAMRE's Director and also Director of the Scholarship Program, was this year's Mission Coordinator. Before the mission even left for Guatemala, Andy spent endless hours arranging the many aspects of the trip and holding information meetings. Once in Guatemala he was kept very busy visiting the scholarship recipients, talking to their parents, and visiting their schools. At the present time we have 25 scholarship recipients from Timushan, Pena Blanca, and Volcancito. CCAMRE feels that education is a major stepping stone towards ending the misery of these wonderful people. With this program they can develop skills and knowledge to further their education and thus get better paying jobs so they can take care of their families. Another special highlight of the mission was the inauguration of a home built in Volcancito through special donations by 2 members of CCAMRE for Senora Vitalina Amador, her 8 children, and her elderly mother Senora Santos Amador. Now they will have a place that they can truly call home. They shared their thankfulness for such a grand gift.
Seniors are very important in this world and the seniors’ project is still in full force providing donations of food and other items every 4 months. As a result the seniors looked much healthier and their lives are much more comfortable.
During this year's mission Robert Gimpoli and Michael Grover were busy working in construction with the natives, improving the condition of the community center in Volcancito. They cemented the blocks around the building to avoid water damage. As well this team installed rain troughs to catch the rain water for re-use for irrigation. When not doing construction or visiting the school they also used their teaching skills and worked with the children.
The children of Volcancito were very impressed and fell in love with Kim-Eden English, a teacher who spent every afternoon playing and working with them. Besides games, she taught them to make small baskets from pine needles. The community of Taguani are very thankful that Kim took some of her valuable time to spend with them teaching them knitting. Senora Bertalina expressed that all the ladies are looking forward to her visiting again.
Leslie Barmania shared her expertise with the ladies of Volcancito. The women embraced the new knitting skills taught by Leslie. It was a huge challenge at the beginning as they had never held a knitting needle before. However they learned to make pot holders and booties and by the end of the 2 weeks they had made beautiful scarves as well. CCAMRE has brought theses scarves back here to Canada and they are available for sale. The collected money will go back into the new knitting program.
Aziz Barmania demonstrated new techniques growing Moringa trees, the new "Tree of Life". He also visited the water sources of Pena Blanca and Volcancito and had the water tested. Our hope is that in the future the indigenous will have running water in their homes and that it will be fit to drink. Both Leslie and Aziz gave workshops on Co-operatives and Micro Credits for the members of the community of Timushan with the hope that with this information the community will improve their economic development and their living conditions.
Cecilia Bardsley, who has been CCAMRE's Sewing Coordinator for many years, was once again was an important member of our mission team. Her dedication and endless hours of teaching her sewing skills have shown many good results. The sewing group of Pena Blanca went very well even with the difficulties in the mornings in acquiring the space required to do her program. She is looking forward to the new sewing facility being built. She was a real trooper to continue teaching how to sew new items.
Every year the Medical Team has challenges in the mountains. Most of the people in the Merendon Mountains suffer from respiratory problems since they cook and heat their homes with poor stoves made of mud which exhaust black smoke into their living space. This year, thanks to a donation from SHARE and help from Loving Arms, CCAMRE has started a stove project. We were able to have some men from each village learn to build a stove with a chimney which would vent outside. Thus, with the help of Aziz and the men of the villages, we were able to build 6 stoves during our mission. Thanks to SHARE there is a possibility of continuing with the Stove Project and building many more.