Common Hope Antigua Day #3


Common Hope Day #3 – 1/16/18

Today was a day that packed a punch for me physically, spiritually, and emotionally.   I was thrilled to start the day being one of the only females who got to “go and lay concrete” with the other guys on our team who are more “constuctionally-abled.”  I didn’t think I’d be able to contribute much – but when you make concrete the old-fashioned way – by overturning piles and piles of dirt, gravel, water, and sand with metal shovels – it takes a whole team – and my biceps might even have poked out for the “show.”  I was proud of what Mike, Jon, Douglas, Ron, Craig and I accomplished, with the help of our fearless guides:  Abel, Mario, and Michelle.  It was a morning filled with great team work and high satisfaction, as we worked alongside the family who was excited to see the foundation laid for their new 12 X 16 foot home.  Other team members helped sort books in the library, packed emergency food baskets for families, played in the childcare center, and went on social work visits.


This afternoon, I accompanied a social worker named Lesbia to visit 3 families in Antigua.  These Guatemalan social workers are the heart and soul of Common Hope here, working long hours to make the relational connections with families to the educational and medical services here at Common Hope.  I couldn’t understand the language, but I could see how passionate Lesbia was about her job and supporting these families so they could keep their kids in school.  We visited three different families, and in all 3 cases- both mom and dad had abandoned the children due to drugs, alcoholism, or abuse – leaving their children to be raised by three courageous “Abuelas” – grandmas.  

I just wanted to wrap these tender-hearted grandmas in my arms- showering them with love and encouragement!  What painful and difficult jobs – when there’s no wage-earners in the home, and every week, these grandmas have to push through arthritis symptoms and health challenges – to worry about how to pay for the rice to feed their grandchildren.  Alcoholism and physical abuse is prevalent here, and there are so many families where the only adult in the home is the faithful grandma.

I was overcome with guilt and sadness today – because I was struck by how hard, not only these grandmas, but how hard their school-aged grandkids, have to work to support each other – and earn money for their grandparents – without any help from parents.  These kids were practically the same age as my kids- and yet they’re saddled with such adult responsibilities.  Here they are – so eager to learn -to want to be good students – and yet they’re having to worry about food resources, abuse, and alcoholism. 

What can I do?  Could I give up my gym membership to sponsor more children?  Could I spend less on eating out so I could give a few more children a chance?  These are the deep ethical dilemmas that are messing with me – and our whole team this week as we grapple with how we might change our lifestyles to give more of these eager kids a chance. 


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