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Snapshots from Guatemala

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Like a photo album of times preserved, our days are comprised of snapshots—or at least this is how our memory seems to capture meaningful experiences. We remember moments, and whether these moments hold sadness, joy, courage, or inspiration, they are uniquely special nonetheless.

Our intention for traveling to this vibrant and resilient country, was for two of The Philanthropiece Foundation’s Youth Global Leadership students, Hannah Davinroy and Emily Robertson, to implement their community-based photography and clean water initiatives.

While working in Guatemala, it felt like the days had a tendency to blur together; it became easier to recall snapshots rather than entire, individual days. During one of our nightly group reflections, while sitting across from one another on the top of adjacent bunk beds, we each took time to intentionally journal about memorable moments from the day. The following “snapshots” are merely a few highlights that came out of our 17-day trip. These moments were captured during our stay in Chajul, which is located in the department of Quiché.

They are small but durable photographs that we carry with us in our hearts and minds.

Katie Doyle Myers, Director of Programs:

High, sharp cheek bones– dignity. Eyes that are in one moment deep and knowing, the very next dancing with authentic joy. Yo soy un huerfano de la guerra…y ya trabajo por mi comunidad.

Captured during a charla with Pedro Velasco, Local Coordinator for Fundación Ixil.

I am sitting on a small plastic barco across from Dominga. I suggest something, she builds upon it. We are wondering, designing, questioning, creating something together.

Captured during a meeting with a Philanthropiece Scholar, while sitting outside of the Philanthropiece office in Chajul.

Alicia Conte, Youth Global Leadership Program Coordinator:

She stands at the front of the classroom, short but strong, young yet focused. Her hands cradle a children’s book about un gran fresa y el raton. The r’s roll off her tongue with ease. Rrrraton— and I am so entranced by her presence and the attention she receives from the students, that I forget to even listen to the plot of the story. I am so struck by the value she awards to literacy, that it doesn’t even catch my attention when she moves from Español a Ixil. In this moment I forget that the floors are made of dirt, and that the strawberries which we share with the [email protected] after story hour might be what little they get to eat today.

A young girl across the room catches my eye, and we smile at one another quickly, before she turns her eyes downward– as if my legs which awkwardly protrude out of this tiny chair scare or offend her.  Adios, adios, adios,we sing to each other, small hands waving from behind wooden desks. And we leave these students, alone, without a teacher, and I remember why she is here.Captured while attending a weekly story hour at a local elementary school with a Philanthropiece Scholar.

Emily Robertson, Youth Global Leadership Student:

A small band of niños accompanies us as we venture into the darkness. There is little light except that of our head lamps. The trail is muddy, unstable, and steep. Six-year-old Mauricio leads the pack with Lupita. José and Mardo supply plentiful jokes about how Mauricio and Lupita are novio and novia. Laughter fills the night air and slices through the usual stillness. The kids begin to howl like wild animals and tell stories of ghosts, vampires, and monsters of the night. This is an unexpected and irreplaceable moment shared by an unlikely group of people, brought together by coincidence and some darn good luck.

Captured during a walk home with friends one night after dinner.

Hannah Davinroy, Youth Global Leadership Student:

Five girls standing around a pila. Looking at the swirling, brown water. Four Guatemalan, one  US-American. Barriers of language no longer exist. We are laughing. About boys, about life. We remain smiling. My friends.

Captured while washing out bottles in preparation for a Clean Water Fair in Chajul.

I turn to Gerber and ask, “Why do you do this work?”  His answer, “I do this work because I know what it is like to not have water. Running water didn’t come to my village until 1996, latrines until 1999. I used to have to miss school to carry water. Then, I was given an opportunity. For an education and to help myself out of poverty. I am proud of my people, and given an opportunity, we will succeed in everything we do.” The gift of opportunity.

Captured while participating in a Biosand filter workshop with Mission Impact.

Photos by Emily Robertson.

Submitted by Alicia Conte, Philanthorpiece’s YGL Program Coordiantor

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