Monday, June 25, 2007

Bridging the Generation Gap

Nowadays, it seems generations are moving farther and farther apart. While people of different ages have always struggled to communicate, the technology explosion of the past couple of decades – with the advent of text messaging, email and cell phones – has created languages of its own and has made it even more difficult for children and their elders to find common ground.

But a group of sponsored youth in Guatemala is proving that not everyone has yielded to the dividing influence of the generation gap. These young people recently visited a retirement home, spending time with its elderly residents and making them feel special.

Javier Cárcamo, communications coordinator for our Rural Guatemala agency, dropped me the following note about the activity:

“…A group of our sponsored youth organized a lovely social activity to benefit another group of needy and forgotten people: the elderly people in a retirement home called Cabecitas de Algodón (“Little Cottonheads”).

“This retirement home is very old and is suffering from economic limitations that have threatened in recent years to force it to close. It is maintained solely by donations from generous people who live in the city of Antigua Guatemala (meaning "Old Guatemala") and by some private businesses. The unique thing about this retirement home is that most of its residents are elderly people who were rescued from abandonment, were picked up from garbage dumps, were homeless or have been abused.

“Motivated by their role as leaders, the young people of Service Area 2 in San Lorenzo El Cubo and and Ciudad Vieja decided to hold a grocery drive for these elderly people, and they organized a visit to take them a little joy.

“Our director supported this initiative, and we provided them everything they needed to hold their activity, which included two plays and a dance presentation. Each elderly person received a small gift, and they also raffled off small gifts that were appropriate for them.

“The activity lasted more than four hours, during which they livened up the party with marimba music. The youth danced with the elderly people, who were very happy. Some of the sponsored girls gave manicures to the elderly ladies who were sick and couldn’t move, and everyone enjoyed a bit of cake and refreshments.

“Something beautiful…when the activities were over and the residents were pretty tired, each youth chose a person and dedicated themselves to listening to them. The elderly people told their stories and the young people enjoyed them.

“The young people named this initiative ‘Youth Working Together for a Smile,” and they plan to do the same thing in other retirement homes, orphanages and special care facilities.”

Three cheers for some great young people who have proven that the generation gap isn’t so wide after all!

Photos by youth photographer Manuel Xoyón, from Children International’s agency in Rural Guatemala.


dana t. said...

what a beautiful thing!

Kitty said...

It is so wonderful to see the photos and to know that there are young ones caring for the elderly. Thank you!