To Guatemala with Love

by Jessica Shyba on September 13, 2013

in Travel,World Vision

By the time we depart Guatemala on Sunday, we will have been here seven days. That’s close to four days longer than I have ever been apart from any of my children. I knew going into this experience that it would be a challenge for me to be so far away from my babies, and that what I am doing would have to be that meaningful to me.

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An experience that would change my life, and something I would get to share with the world. For me, the ability and opportunity that this space has given me to affect the lives of others is one of the most important things I have ever done.

This trip was a life lister for me. I miss my children and my family so, so very much, but the perspective I have been given is something that will ultimately make me a better person and a better parent. We’ve been completely removed from everything that is familiar to us, aside from each other. We are without internet or cellular access for most of the day, visiting families and homes in conditions that I personally have never seen before. I can’t remember the last time I went for hours at a time without internet access, and it has been so cleansing to be entrenched in the lives of these people without any distractions whatsoever.

I came here with an open mind and little reservation, and even less of an opinion of World Vision because I wanted to develop one while experiencing and seeing exactly what it is that they do. I have never sponsored children with any organization before, mostly because I was skeptical of how the funds were actually spent but also because I wasn’t ready to expose myself to the heartache that would come with seeing the reality of the the way some children live around the world.

Yesterday, we went into the homes of some of the children and women that play in the orchestra that World Vision has created for this particular community in Guatemala. They told us through tears how learning to play their instruments gave them purpose and hope and how much their lives had changed because of the opportunity to play music.

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It was the most emotional experience for me since being here.

When I was in elementary school, there was an orchestra program in our public school and I began to play the violin. In middle school, my mother scraped together enough money to buy my own violin, which was at the time around $800, a considerable expense for a single mother. I played until my sophomore year of high school when I swapped it for the guitar. It was something that instilled pride and confidence, two things that didn’t come naturally to me. I realize now how much that opportunity shaped who I am today-when I quite honestly remember it being a chore to practice every night.

Spoiled white kid, man.

I watched as 12 year old Angel played Bach for us while using a hole in the cement ground in his living room to prop up his cello. His mother and young sister watched on in the dank room alight with only the sun peering in through the holes in the walls, their dinner sitting in a pot of water in the area out back.

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“Music helped us develop parts of our brain, and it helps in school in our regular education. There are many children in our communities that are afraid to go to school because they think something is going to happen to them, that someone will harm them. So it’s (music) a preparation. It prepares their parents for education also.”

“Thanks to the orchestra I have a dream to become a music teacher.

I feel like I am nothing without my cello.” -Dina

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I want to encourage you to consider sponsoring a child in Guatemala. A donation of $35 per month, per child, helps to provide clean running water, nutrition, education and even music programs to communities in Guatemala. The changes and the difference that World Vision has made in the 18 years they have been in this particular village is extraordinary… This is something that I have heard directly from the mouths of the residents. The way Jefferson (my sponsored child) and his mother looked into my eyes, fighting tears, trying to express their gratitude was so powerful. The way he calls me “La Padrina” through huge smiles will stay with me forever. La Padrina translates to Godmother.

I am here to show you the good that can be done in the world, and how we can all be even a little part of it. I am so grateful to all of you for your thoughts and support in this journey with me. Thank you so much for following this experience, it truly means more than you can imagine.

If you are interested in learning more about World Vision or sponsoring a child, please click here.

I am not being compensated for this coverage of my trip to Guatemala, however World Vision has paid my travel and accommodation expenses. All opinions are my own.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Monica September 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful glimpse of your experience in Guatemala. I have seen similar circumstances while visiting my mother’s country (Colombia) over the years, and that lead to my family’s sponsorship of a darling little girl. I love that you continually use your platform for social good. Wishing you all the best. xxx

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Kelli September 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Beautiful, Jessica. Thank you for going and for sharing your photos and words. I went on a similar blogging trip with Compassion International last year to Tanzania and I know how the images and experiences can wreck and change your perspective on the world. Thanks for being willing to go and for being vulnerable in your writing. I will forever be in support of organizations like World Vision and Compassion because there’s no better way to unite the first and third world and give us all a common thread of hope.

Blessings to you as you finish your journey and live with the impact of all you’ve seen. And I pray that your words would impact the lives of those in Guatemala through additional sponsorship!

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Brittany September 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this story. The music should be heard around the world and the world should reach their arms out in support of these communities and organizations like World Vision.

Enjoy your remaining time with those beautiful people and know you will be home with your soon!

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K. Elizabeth @ YUMMommy September 13, 2013 at 3:33 pm

What a humbling experience and beautiful post. I think we take some many things for granted in our society. We tend to forget that around the world there are thousands of families who don’t even access to clean water let alone food and proper shelter. I admire the work organizations like World Vision do to help those families and to improve their lives.

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Bojana September 15, 2013 at 3:12 am

Jessica,

Thank you for blogging about Guatemala. I sponsor two beautiful children from this country and I’m looking forward to visiting them some day. In the meantime, I enjoy learning about the country and it’s people.

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Melissa September 17, 2013 at 5:27 am

Thank you for bringing us along on your journey! I can only imagine the thousand different emotions and sights you have experienced. It is wonderful to learn how these organizations are helping families nourish their bodies and spirits.
(And those violin days! If only we had known how lucky we were…)

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Natalie September 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Another moving post. Thank you! I sponsored a child today.

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Danielle MayƩn January 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in Guatemala! I first heard about your sweet family through your adorable pictures of Theo and Beau. Your blog is a joy to read and it seems like you’ve created such a balance in your family. I’ve been living and teaching in Guatemala for 6 years now and recently started working with rescue animals as well. I’m excited to keep up with your sweet family through your blog!

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