It may be “winter” in Guatemala, with daily rain storms cooling off the air, but summer vacations are in full swing in the United States, making it a popular time for Safe Passage supporters to form Support Teams. These groups of energetic, hard working volunteers come to Guatemala for a week to work with the children, and to learn about the organization and the environment in which it exists. During the months of June, July, and August of this year, we are excitedly welcoming around 170 individuals coming as members of 14 different teams, with origins from all around the United States—from Safe Passage’s home state of Maine to Florida; from Texas to Washington.
Teams typically start the week off by viewing the Guatemala City municipal dump and getting a comprehensive look at Safe Passage’s programs and history. For the remainder of the work week, they help out in a number of invaluable capacities, such as implementing educational projects with classrooms of students, assisting in teaching English classes, spending time with the toddlers in the Guarderia, working alongside the cooks in the kitchen, and helping out with maintenance tasks. Finally, the week is capped off with the team taking a class of Safe Passage students on a Saturday field trip of their choice, for which they almost always pick a day at the waterpark!
Each team brings different skills, passions, and personalities, but they all come for one common purpose—the children. Team members do not have to speak Spanish, but only need to come with a heart ready to to give, learn, and play. Says member Heather of the recently visiting Utah Medical Explorers team, “Yesterday we met with Richard, the Executive Director of the program, and he said something that I really liked. He said not to worry about being able to speak Spanish because the language here is love. Working with the students you realize how true that really is.” In the time working with the children here, it is hard not to experience their love, and many team members discover a new world within themselves. Bruce, who came last March as a chaperone for a student team from Falmouth, Maine, found that, “There is a profound love in Safe Passage that goes several layers deeper than I realized my heart had the capacity to feel.”
We have seen what a great effect that teams have on the kids of Safe Passage, providing them with affection and attention, educational stimulation, and opportunities to do activities they would not normally have the chance to. As Support Team Coordinators, we would like to personally invite you to “change, and be changed” by getting together with a group from your school, church, community, or family, and coming down to work with us as a team. In the words of Emilie, who helped to organize a team from Cedar Ridge High School in North Carolina, “I know the children of Safe Passage need the support of Support Teams. And while we are helping the children here, I feel the children are helping us more by broadening our perspectives of the world.”
Hope to be seeing you soon,
Owen and Jess
If you are interested in forming a Support Team, please email our Support Team Coordinators Jess and Owen at email@example.com to find out more!
Photography by Tammy Anderson. Thanks Tammy!