Monday, December 16, 2013

Post trip reflections

I have had a hard time wrapping my head around all the experiences and emotions that resulted from the trip. One of the challenges is that life continues to move on and it's hard to find the time to stop, reflect, write notes about how it made me feel and what I/we should do next. The author of a blog I follow suggests to take a break at the end of each calendar year. Leave for a few hours or a couple of days and spend some time in isolation (for me it would also mean in prayer) and summarize what went well and what did not go so well during the past 12 months. I still have a couple of weeks before the end of 2013 and I really want to do that.

Taking time to reflect and pray

The following question has been surfacing into my thoughts several times since I have been back: "What was the hardest thing(s) that I experienced in Guatemala?". While there are many that I could enumerate, I want to reflect on a specific one today: potable water availability. I have heard many times about the lack of clean water for billions of people around the globe, but even though I have tried to take short showers, turn the faucet off while brushing my teeth, limit the watering of the yard in the summer and drinking from reusable water bottles, this trip reminded me again how insignificant some of these efforts are compared to struggle for water in developing countries. "Agua Pura" was constantly on my mind in Guatemala. Do no drink from the faucet, use bottle water to brush teeth, keep the mouth shut under the shower, do we have enough clean water to make dinner tonight, does everybody have enough water in a screw-type water bottle for the daily outing, are the plates we are eating on and the utensils we are using completely dry? Water is a continuous concern. This is because, while most places we visited had water that reached the house, in one way or another, the quality of the water is not good enough for consumption. Bacteria and parasites abound. Yet, a lot of locals do not have enough money, education or resources in order to have regular access to clean water. The result is sickness and, at times, an uncontrolled consumption of bottled drinks like coca-cola. Neither of our two sponsored children and their families regularly drink potable water.

Even when water is available it is not hot water, but only cold water. One of the houses we stayed at, had installed a water heater and pump. So, when water pressure was available from the local municipality, usually somewhere between 7AM and 3PM, it was possible to take a warm shower, even though the insatiability of the pump and heater made the water change abruptly from very cold to scorching hot and back within about 30 seconds.

typical water pipe in rural villages

potable water in one of places we stayed

water distribution


- Build a stove for a family currently cooking with wood and stones: $200

- Cost of running the Hands of Hope clinic for one day $200

- Blankets for a family of 6 living in corn stalk house: $36

- Diapers for Amor del Nino Orphanage: $25 for 250 diapers (10,000 are used every month)

- Provides corn, beans and rice for a family of 6 for 1 month: $50

- Doctor's annual salary for clinic in Monterico:  $8,000

- Approx. monthly cost of diapers for orphanage: $1,000

- Monthly cost of special medication for diabetic child: $110

- wooden bed frame (allows children and adults to sleep off the dirt floor): $50

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