CCAMRE’s Humanitarian Mission 2020 to Guatemala was an extraordinary journey. 18 mission members donated their unds, expertise and love to help the Mayan Chorti communities in the Merendon Mountains of Guatemala.
By Hilda Rossi: I know how stressful it can be for the mission members as they find themselves in strange surroundings without the comforts of home. We travelled on dirt roads in pick-up trucks to get to the remote mountain villages. Once at the villages we worked on many projects and programs and also deliver health and dental care to the villagers living in the mountains. It can be difficult to witness the reality of the daily lives of the people living in the remote villages. The kind words and actions from the mission members go a long way toward helping them. Members of the communities expressed their gratitude to all the mission members for their contribution to help improve life for the Mayan Chorti. We worked on many programs and projects such as Dental and Health Programs, High School and University Scholarship Programs, the Sponsor a Child Program (SACP) and the Water Project.
We look forward to continuing with our humanitarian work. Covid-19, however, has changed the world. We hope that it will not stop us from continuing our humanitarian effort that brings much needed support to the Mayan Chorti communities in Guatemala. I was so happy when the mission members left on March 8 just before the closure of borders and the airport in Guatemala City and that we are now all safe and sound with our loved-ones. I prayed that through a unified commitment from all CCAMRE mission members we can continue to accomplish many great things together.
By Janet Bot – This was the first time I participated in a CCAMRE mission and I now have a much better understanding of the needs of the Mayan Chorti people in the Merendon Mountains. In my role with the Sponsor a Child Program (SACP) it was a pleasure to meet the sponsored children as they are no longer just names on a list and photos on the internet. It was very obvious that the need is great for the support provided by CCAMRE for these children and their families. In addition, I was able to meet the children that John and I are sponsoring through the SACP and ESSP (Scholarship Program). We have sponsored children before with Plan International but it was quite amazing to actually meet and interact with the children. It made it so much more real. I was part of the SACP team and worked with Christine Lovisotto, Blanca Aurora Baldizon and Reyna Morales. We worked well together and supported each other throughout the mission. There are currently 40 sponsored children, 11 in Pena Blanca and 29 in Volcancito. On the mission we interviewed and photographed all the children who are part of the SACP. They prepared letters and drawings for their sponsors and upon our return from the mission the photos and letters were emailed to each sponsor along with an update on the child’s progress. This process validates the SACP and allows us to ensure that the children are still attending school and are eligible for the program.
In addition to meeting with the sponsored children, we also took applications for possible sponsorship from 28 new children, 15 in Pena Blanca and 13 in Volcancito. The children and their parent(s) were interviewed and photos were taken. To be eligible to submit an application, a copy of their birth certificate was provided and it was confirmed that no other children in the family were enrolled in the SACP. The applications and documents have now been provided to CCAMRE’s representative Elida Arroyo Galdamez. Elida will confirm that these children are all eligible for the program and we can then seek out sponsors for them. I very much enjoyed meeting Elida Galdamez, she is CCAMRE representative and our Guatemalan contact for the SACP her role is critical to ensure that the program is operating as smoothly as possible. It was also interesting to see the schools in Pena Blanca and Volcancito and to meet the teachers. Life is very challenging for them.
By Cecilia Bardsley – We had a productive, thorough and enjoyable mission; our members from Canada, USA and Guatemala were a hardworking, focused and cohesive group. The ESSP has students in Volcancito, Peña Blanca and Timushan enrolled in Basico (12), Bachillerato/Diversificado (4) and university (4). This year we received more applications mostly for Basico, with a number of applicants from older students wanting to return to school. Every year we spend time with each student within the ESSP unless they are attending school in another area and unable to return. Through the interview process, activities and their letters to their sponsor we are privileged to see a different side of the students, observe their personal development, assess their progress and hopefully gain their trust.
This year I received a donation of condoms from a Canadian doctor and kits of reusable/washable sanitary pads. ESSP organized separate Health and Sexual Education presentations for girls and boys at three Basico level schools. We had great participation from school teachers and the presentations went extremely well. A presentation on gathering information and investigating costs for 2021 studies and the CCAMRE Education contract, for students graduating their Basico level was given by Lorena Salguero a Guatemalan CCAMRE coordinator. A meeting, evaluating the 2019 expenses and to setting a tentative budget for 2020, was held with Elida Galdamez a Guatemalan CCAMRE coordinator in charge of finances
It is my hope to eventually raise the current average standard of education in all villages from illiteracy to the minimum average standard to grade six with hopefully many completing Basico. It is a joy and privilege to assist students to attain higher education through my work with the Education Scholarship Support Program through CCAMRE. I encourage anyone interested in supporting a student with their academic dream to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
By John Bot – This was my second mission with CCAMRE and once again I felt honoured and humbled to be part of an incredibly dedicated and committed organization and group of people. To the Medical and Dental Team, which I was finally able to see in action, the Sponsor a Child and Scholarship coordinators who are so critical to children’s education, the Construction Team which climbed up and down to the water source so many times, our fantastic drivers, local helpers, school teachers and last, but far from least, Hilda Rossi, whose energy, enthusiasm and vision have made such a difference to so many in the Merendon Mountains – thank you for an experience which will be in my heart and mind forever.
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Canadian Central American Relief Effort (CCAMRE) is a registered charitable organization. The success and availability of all the projects is based solely upon the success of the fundraising activities and donations; the generosity of donors like you allows CCAMRE to develop projects and initiatives to help the indegeneous people of the Merendon Mountains in Guatemala.