by Columbia River HS student, Sean Marble
While in Guatemala, our eyes were opened to the living conditions and lives of a large portion of the population on this earth. In our developed nation, we do not have very much exposure to the way the poorer parts of our world live. According to the UN in 2010, 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, which is to live on $1.25 or less per day. Along with Medical Teams International, we were able to travel to an impoverished community and provide some much needed services to the people living there. With the $10,000 from the project cost, we were able to purchase the supplies for 50 latrines. We worked alongside the community to build the latrines for families that were already picked by MTI. While we worked, we interacted with the children and the families, and made personal connections with many people there. Many of our team members brought goodies for the children. It was amazing to see how thankful the kids were for just a few stickers and a crayon. I'm sure it made us all realize how much we take for granted.
After we finished one latrine, we taught the mother of the household how to wash her hands. We are already accustomed to washing our hands on a regular basis, and we find it strange to have to teach someone, but the people of this village had never been exposed to the how or the why of handwashing. We had to teach them to use clean water, when to wash their hands, and why it is important. After teaching the handwashing, the family would thank the team that built the latrine, and we would all pray together. It was an amazing experience to see how gracious the families were. It is a feeling you just can't get from sending in a donation. It was a really powerful experience. We may have helped a few hundred people, but there is definitely more to be done. Any help goes a long way.