One of our volunteers from the Upper Midwest recently visited NPH Guatemala and she was kind enough to share her story with us. Read about 17-year-old Emily's experience below.
With a group of student volunteers from my high school, I was able to take a trip to the NPH orphanage in Guatemala. We spent a week at the orphanage during our spring break from school. At first I felt a little nervous, going to a foreign country with 30 other volunteers and a language barrier. I had taken French in high school, so I knew very little Spanish. But once we arrived, I began the greatest trip of my life. After a one-hour drive on the bus to the orphanage, we were greeted by all the NPH children lining the street at the entrance. They were waving and cheering, and their band was playing music. It was such an incredible welcome! Happily, I discovered that once we began to spend time with the children, the language barrier was no problem whatsoever, and we all really enjoyed each other’s company.
Throughout the trip, many friendships were formed. Every day at lunch we had the opportunity to eat with the children. I sat at the 8-12 year old boys’ table every time. They were fascinated by my camera and took pictures of all their friends. They constantly made me smile. The lunch hour quickly became one of the highlights of each day. Most evenings, we volunteers had activities planned for the children. One night we had an ice cream social, and another night we had a dance party. The dance was my favorite part of the trip. That was when I really got to know Cristian, Gorge and Julaus, three 9-10 year old boys I sat with at lunch. I had so much fun with my three boys. We jumped and laughed and danced until it was their bedtime. On evenings when there wasn’t an activity planned, a couple fellow volunteers and I would play with the 8-12 year old girls at their living quarters. They were always so excited to see us walk in. You could see in their eyes how happy they were, and they spent the rest of the night jumping on us and making us race and play games with them. It was a little tiring, but the girls loved it so much we didn’t mind putting up with their shenanigans.
Each day while the children were in school, we volunteers helped out around the orphanage by painting the outside of the baby house or working in the fields. Both jobs were a lot of fun; it allowed us to bond with each other while we were helping NPH. Each day after school, the children had chores to do. The kids who finished quickly had time to come and play with us on the stairs in front of the soccer field. Cristian, Gorge and Julaus always found me and gave me frequent hugs. I’ll never forget the time when I surprised the boys with a visit during dinner. Cristian was so excited. When it was time for him to go back to his dorm, and for me to do the same, he gave me a hug, walked 100 feet, turned around and yelled my name and then ran back to me for another hug. He continued to repeat this process at least four times. It was the cutest thing!
Our visit to Guatemala went by so quickly! When it was time for us to head home, all of the volunteers said goodbye to the children they befriended. It was very sad; there were lots of tears. We reluctantly loaded onto the bus. As we began to drive off, Cristian ran down the fence along side the bus waving to me. I can’t stress how important those relationships with the children are. The love and attention mean so much to them. I will never forget my three boys and how happy my day would be when they came running toward me with their arms wide open for a big hug.
When I returned home, I looked through my pictures from the trip everyday, remembering all the great times we had with each other. But it wasn’t enough. I missed my new friends. Together, my family and I decided to sponsor the boys. Being a sponsor means you are a godparent to the child(ren). Because I knew Cristian and Gorge, I was able to specifically choose them as our godchildren. Alternatively, any child can be selected for you. As a sponsor, you donate money every month on their behalf. You receive updates on how your godchild(ren) is/are doing and can exchange letters. You even have the opportunity to visit the kids if you choose to, which I would strongly suggest! You have no idea how much your care and concern means to those kids.
I loved every minute of my time in Guatemala and strongly encourage everyone to sponsor a child in a NPH orphanage.