Friday, May 25, 2007

The Courageous Spirit of Guatemala - Part 4 of 4

Posted on behalf of Jim Cook

I’m not sure if one should enter into the blog trivial travel events such as a serious leak from the air conditioner in my hotel room, which resulted in lots of water coming into my room. I discovered it at 2:00 in the morning when I thought it was raining as I made my way across the room to an appointment with nature. An hour later, two nice repair guys had the leak fixed, and the only thing that kept this from all being a dream was the wet carpet, which was indubitably real.

So this was Friday and my last day in country. I had two important appointments …one with the U.S. Ambassador at the Embassy and the second with my other sponsored child—actually a youth—at the Guatemala City central office.

Roxana had come to the office with her mom and sister and her sister’s baby. Roxana is 16 and is lovely…cute, petite and obviously full of energy and life. We all had a very nice time and good conversation. Roxana was understandably a bit shy but asked a lot of questions and gave me a good glimpse into her life. She hopes to become a lawyer. Quite a goal, and one I hope she achieves.

So I had now visited two of my family’s sponsored children on this visit…one 6, the other 16. Both visits were wonderfully enriching and both girls couldn’t have been sweeter or nicer or more appreciative. Many times when I read sponsors’ accounts of their visits to their sponsored children, they write that they receive much more from their sponsorship than the children do. After meeting the two remarkable Guatemalan girls, I echo that sentiment!

After a quick tour of the central office and the opportunity to greet and be greeted by the entire staff, I headed over to the U.S. Embassy. Traffic was brutal, but we made it.

Ambassador James Derham saw me right on time. Nice man. In spite of the somewhat formal office, he was very at ease and we were able to have a good, wide-ranging conversation about Guatemala and Children International’s activities here. I mentioned that we would invite him and other Embassy representatives to the opening of the center in Patulul, and he indicated he hoped he could attend, as he really enjoyed getting out and seeing various activities around the country.

That pretty much concluded a relatively short but extremely rewarding and enlightening visit to Guatemala. It is so apparent the difference our sponsors and staff are making in the lives of the children who are growing up in the clutches of poverty.

Everywhere I went I saw the clear signs of our help. Children wearing shoes they had received for Christmas…seeing doctors and dentists…learning computer skills to give them job skills for the future. And finally, knowing that the sponsorship program and the staff at our community centers represent support and a safe place to go.

As I’ve noted before, I saw so much that encouraged me, yet so much discouraging, stark poverty that I return home all the more determined to reach more people who would become sponsors for the many Guatemalan children who need so much the help we can all provide.

And I can report unequivocally that one of my goals – to “get dirty” – was successfully accomplished…with absolutely no regrets!

Jim Cook is the president and CEO of Children International.


Dianne said...

Although I do not usually comment on blogs I read, I am doing so now because I want Children International to know how much I enjoy this added feature. I have even subscribed to it so I will not miss a posting.

The various postings by different writers gives me a better idea of the conditions under which my sponsored child lives and is a nice supplement to the letters I receive.

Please keep up the good work.

JennyF said...

Glad to see that you are still out in the field, seeing how CI is making a difference in the lives of children everywhere.

I am happy to support such a wonderful organization, and love the blog feature that you guys have started!

A friend from PM.

Ed Menegazzo said...

As a native of Guatemala I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you are doing there. I grew up in Patulul Suchitepeques, where a new center was just opened. I stumbled upon your blog while searching in yahoo and it was nice to see a picture of the Mayor, Gilberto Perez. I remember him from school. We were classmates in elementary school and played in the same soccer team for years. He is a great guy who replaced Ruben Orizabal (our sixth grade teacher) when he tragically died with his family in a car accident a few years ago.

Again, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!