Oh how fast the time goes. I swear that each week is passing faster and faster, just as I’m coming up with more ideas about things I’d like to see or do. But the good thing is, I’ve learned that I don’t need to stop coming up with these ideas because I can still come back and do them on another trip. How blessed am I to have the opportunity to do such things?
I am almost certain I have found my volunteer project of choice, now that I only have one month left to be here. I spent my entire weekend there, even though there’s not really a project going on during the weekends. This project is called Asociación Vida and is run by the fellows who took us to Acatenango.
“Asociación de Desarrollo “Vida”, known short as Vida, was founded in July of 2012. It functions as both a community center and school for disabled children through their program Syndrome de Amor (Love Syndrome). Since the Guatemalan educational system does not support children that have special needs, friends Oliver and Daniel saw the need to help these children in their community. These children come from families who are not able to or not always willing to care for them because of their disabilities. They suffer from learning disabilities, autism, muscular dystrophy, Downs’ syndrome, hearing and vision deficits and sensory integration difficulties. Yet, the philosophy at Vida is that these children have special capabilities that the volunteer staff at Vida seek out and help to improve.”
You can check out their facebook page here (And no, you do not need a facebook to check it out, but to message them, you probably do):
https://www.facebook.com/pages/ASOCIACIÓN-VIDA/256223494488837 (sorry, you have to copy and paste. wordpress was not allowing me to insert a clickable link!)
What drew me in was not their goal to help children with special needs, as there are other volunteer projects with the same type of idea, but their goal to be as resourceful as possible. There is not really a concept of recycling in Guatemala and there is trash in the streets/creeks and it’s gross. Something that Vida also does is collect recycles and uses it to make art. My friend, Galleta, is the one who is in charge of this department, but they are lacking art at the moment. When they explained their concept to me, I was inspired to make art and take pictures of it to help them market it and sell it to help raise funds for their organization.
It is difficult to earn a lot of money in Guatemala as it is, but this association is run by Guatemalans and, although they are working towards some way to earn money, it is strictly volunteer. How can these Guatemalans have the time to dedicate into this business that doesn’t earn them a dime? So for me, this place has a dream and it’s a good dream that I feel drawn to participate in and help out with. Although it does help that I like all the people that work there too. 😉
So I start next week. Yep, that’s right. I finish my Spanish classes this Friday and don’t feel like paying for more (Plus Willy and I are going to continue doing our tandem thing so I will still be kind of having a class) so with only a month left to go, I will be finally going back to a volunteer project. I will be able to use my balloon animals there, FINALLY, and I will be able to use my photography skills to help someone at last.
I am bummed that I just now met this group of guys. They are all very sweet and respectful, unlike a good load of Guatemalans that I have crossed paths with (The guys that whistle at you in Dueñas, where Vida is located, are ten times worse than Antigua!) and I look forward to spending a lot of my final days in Guatemala with them.
Saturday, José (not the one I dated, but one of the 2 José’s that work in Asociación Vida) invited me to come hang out with them, as they sometimes just hang out at the project just as a place to come together. Of course I accepted. Emilee had been gone since Thursday to El Salvador and I didn’t do anything special or out of the ordinary the rest of the week so I’d been pretty bored and lonely in the house. I decided to make my famous Guacamole and we headed off to Dueñas at around 11 Saturday morning.
Danny gave me a tour of the place when I got there and I quickly saw how unorganized the recycling area was. It is basically piles of trash that are impossible to sort through. I immediately knew that I was going to be of help to them because not only do they need marketing of their recycled art, they need to organize it terribly so that they can actually make good use of the area and make more art. Two things of which I have come to learn that I am very good at. So after the tour, I was even more excited to be a part of their association.
As it’s not too safe to take a Chicken bus after dark, I would have needed to leave at 5 that day, but after making the guacamole and having to step out for a phone conversation with another friend that was desperate to talk to me, I felt like I hadn’t spent much time with them. We watched part of a movie and they played a little guitar and then they were all getting ready to leave, except Galleta, around 3:00. They said I was more than welcome to stay, so I did, but 5:00 came around too quickly as well.
Figuring that I’d already been camping with them, I figured it couldn’t hurt to camp again, so we spontaneously made the decision to stay overnight at the project and sleep on a pile of donated clothes. I didn’t want to wait until next week to get started, because after showing me the pile of recycles, I was too excited. So Galleta and I stayed overnight so we could work on a lamp that I was inspired to make. And it was so much fun.
I missed out on sleep again, staying up late working on art, talking to Galleta, and listening to rats crawling around, so after we finished the lamp on Sunday, the rest of the day we pretty much lazed around and dozed off on the floor mats of the play room haha, but we at least finished what we started the night before!
Granted, the lamp wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but they didn’t have all the things I needed in order to make it the way I had thought up. But with 24 hours, some beer cans, bottle caps, a plastic bottle, and a few electrical things, I’d say we did a pretty good job!
So this is going to be what I get to participate in for the rest of my trip and I’m really excited to get started and finally feel like I’m helping someone out. Hopefully these things will raise them some money. But what’s amazed me the most is how excited I am to get started. Pieces of my life are finally falling together. And that’s why I love traveling.
You learn so much more about the world traveling than you ever learn in school. You learn more social skills. You learn more about yourself. I can’t believe how much has changed in less than 6 months time here. I’ve learned so many things.
I learned that coke tabs are called “veintiunos” in Guatemala (something I learned while constructing our lamp out of beer cans) because it makes 2 bars and a dot, which is the mayan symbol for 21. You also trade them in for kisses! (UY QUE RICO!) Which I think is way cooler than our coke cans in the states. Granted, this isn’t something that I’ve learned that is going to help me grow in life, but since we were on the subject of learning things, I thought I’d share that sweet little tidbit with you all.
But today, I had a smoothie with my friend Mihail and was reflecting on all these things that I had learned when it hit me that there is a possibility to follow my dreams and there is a possibility to combine all the little things that I’m good at that don’t really earn money into something BIG that does earn money and I was floored by the thought that traveling is really starting to make me make sense of my life.
I’m still not sure how to start, but pieces are finally forming in my mind and inspiring ideas on how to be able to do what I want with my life, while still earning money to support myself. I don’t know that I want to share them yet, but rather surprise everyone in the future once I have figured out how to get started. All I know is, that feeling of not being finished in Guatemala is truth. I’m not finished. I’m coming back. I can almost guarantee it.