Our very first trip ever! Talk about an incredible experience. Being made from a team of wonderful ambassadors from around the world, we were brought to Guatemala by an ambassador named Tony De La Roca. He invited the team to come to his country and take part in the construction of 10 homes, situated in Zone 3 of Guatemala City. Zone 3, as it turned out, is a capped portion of the city dump, where people have settled and made home.
Seeing the people work in this area of the city (which the existence of is denied by the country) was fascinating! Almost all jobs of those who lived there were self employed, working off what they were able to find inside the dump, while others were workers who either drove the trucks to the dump or worked inside the dump itself. As trucks would arrive, those who scavenged from the trash would place a hand on the side of the vehicle, laying claim to the items that were inside. Each truck could have 10 to 20 people with and arm out, touching it. They would then turn the items inside into their livelihood- whether it be cleaning up chairs, fixing bicycles, even reframing mattresses, this was the lifestyle for Guatemalans who lived here.
The people themselves were kind, and loved that our team was there to help. Walking through the community, some of the best moments were interacting with the children. They loved being up on our shoulders, seeing how tall we were. Kids would run up and start playing soccer, throwing a ball around, or just start chatting! It didn't matter if you spoke Spanish or not- they just wanted to interact with you in some way.
It was not just the people of the community that wanted to connect with us, either. The members of TECHO, the non-profit Tony worked with, were some of the kindest people one could ever meet. Between group activities, mealtimes, building, and more, we all became an incredibly close knit group. The memories made were so impactful, that we made a vow to return each and every year- a promise which we have kept up as Helping Hands Grateful Hearts!