Some people may believe in chance encounters, but we believe God connects us with those he wants us to serve in Guatemala.
Earlier this year, Bertha, our Community Projects Director, met a wonderfully kind woman at one of her regular appointments in Guatemala City. Although a chance meeting during the normal course of business would usually only include casual conversation, Bertha left the office that day with her new friend Tula’s telephone number and nagging urge to connect more deeply.
The urge to connect more deeply
After several weeks, Bertha couldn’t shake the idea that she was supposed to connect with Tula and her family more, especially Tula’s son Rodrigo.
Eventually, Bertha contacted Rodrigo and discovered our next opportunity to serve.
Rodrigo and his wife work an hour outside Guatemala City in a small village called Caserío San Nicolas. With the support of their family and local pastors, the couple operates a tutoring center for local children. The center offers tutoring services for the local children each day, as well as incaparina, a warm drink filled with nutrients to boost their nutrition. Rodrigo feeds both the bodies and the minds of children in San Nicolas.
Life in San Nicolas
Life in San Nicolas could not possibly be more different than life in Guatemala City. In contrast to Guatemala City which is the always busy, home to millions of people, San Nicolas is a village of only 150 families. Marked by rocky dirt roads, the quiet land is surrounded by large fields, natural beauty, and a river. Although these families are blessed by the beauty of their surroundings, half of them live in extreme poverty.
Most people in San Nicolas rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Although they do not own the large fields, the majority of men work as laborers. Pineapple farms are one of the main employers in this region and laborers earn an average of $270 each month. To supplement their income, many families also raise hogs. Not only does raising hogs provide an independent income source for those who own the animals, but it also provides additional employment opportunities for those who help care for the animals.
Families in San Nicolas face many of the same common problems we see elsewhere in Guatemala. Especially during the dry season when local water sources dry up, many families lack access to clean water. Although rainy season brings fresh water, many homes in San Nicolas are damaged each year by rainfall because they lack concrete floors and the materials used for their construction are not weather resistant.
As you can imagine, this rural village struggles to keep up with the changing world. Not even their schools can prepare students for the future. Without access to computers, it’s difficult for students to be competitive and find jobs that will change their family’s current situation.
Even with these challenges, we believe there are opportunities for change in San Nicolas.
An opportunity for San Nicolas
Rodrigo’s tutoring program is called “An Opportunity for San Nicolas” and we’re excited to partner with him.
After visiting San Nicolas and meeting with Rodrigo, his wife, and local pastors, Bertha prioritized the needs of the community and opportunities for us to partner with them. Our focus will be on meeting the immediate, critical needs of working families and supporting Rodrigo’s work.
Teams will begin working with high priority families whose current homes are in need of immediate repair due to structural and rain damage. Many of these families will receive new homes, new kitchens with proper ventilation, concrete floors, water filter, beds, stoves, and groceries. Meeting their basic needs of shelter and food relieves major stress on their entire family.
We will also continue to meet with Rodrigo and discuss how we can support his work. His most critical need is construction assistance with their school building. Due to limited funds, the current classroom structure is built from bamboo, wooden pallets, and tin with a dirt floor. We hope to help to remodel the structure, making it a more weatherproof learning environment.
We’re thankful for Bertha and Tula’s meeting and the opportunity to serve hardworking families in San Nicolas.