We apologise for the lack of blogging recently. We have just been at full power every day, helping the street team, experiencing the mentoring programme and participating at Go Guatemala! I will catch up with events by just mentioning the volunteering projects. I don't want to bore you with our stories of zip wiring through the Guatemalan jungle, staring at an active volcano, watching Mission Impossible in reclining seats in a VIP cinema, and experiencing a traditional Guatemalan meal!
We begin our catch up on Thursday, where we spent the afternoon in zone 4 playing in the same alleyway as on Monday evening. We recognised some of the children and had a great time catching up with them and playing versions of UNO which only they understood (when I get a +2 card I had to pick up at least 10 apparently). Piggybacks ensued which the children enjoyed although my attempts to explain that my 6'2 frame wasn't designed to be a climbing frame were ignored. Some of the kids were given teddy bears and one girl took a fancy to my hat so I gave her my spare one. They appreciated our time, our gifts and our positive energy. Ben and I enjoyed spending time with them and the opportunity for them to just act normally.
Friday was half spent at Antigua constantly staring at the beauty of the old capital and the active volcano, and half spent witnessing the mentoring programme in motion. We met up with Duncan and his mentees Moses and Oscar, Walter, Frank and a few of the other children. We went to a public stadium where we played football, showed each other some skills and attempted the crossbar challenge. As Moses had to go I went to Duncan's car to say goodbye. I was in for a surprise! Moses started showing me his rapping ability, singing a rap song word for word completely in time. He has had a hard life so far. His mother has passed away from aids leaving him with a sometimes abusive grandmother.
Due to his mother's illness there is a stigma attached to him at school. However, he is doing exceptionally well at school, leading him to be given the leaders jersey for the week. His concentration whilst attempting the skills as well as his delight in showing me his rapping convinced me that the mentoring programme is incredible. It allows him for a few hours each week to forget his troubles and enjoy doing things we take for granted like riding a bike or playing football.
The Saturday was fully taken by Go Guatemala. This project is right on the outskirts of the city in zone 18. The project gives over 100 kids breakfast, a chance to worship God, lunch, a chance for some physical activity and then an inspirational talk by Pastor Alex about everyday challenges such as losing a parent.
Ben pushed the kid's footballing ability to the limit with some dribbling and shooting drills before we broke into a full game of footie.
Unfortunately I am far too competitive for my own good. Due to some atrocious defending by the Guatemalan Byron the opposition was gifted an open goal tap in. In a futile attempt to clear the ball off the line I managed to slam my left knee into the post and end up staring into the sky wondering where I was. After limping to the side and after the adrenaline had worn off I realised how painful it had been. Duncan suggested amputation, Ben took photos of me on the ground, and the kids all stood around me laughing at the lack of blood. I maintain that bone injuries are some of the most painful and therefore shouldn't be mocked. Some of the kids had brought their english homework with them and it was distressing to see how 'her hat' had been translated by the teacher into 'the hat of hers'. I guess it shows how the lack of decent english teachers can affect their education.
These three days were also filled with acts of Guatemalan generosity. We were invited out for lunch and then dinner by a family Ben and I had met. Their son had come to England, where we had showed him around London, so to return the favour they took us zip wiring as well. Their traditional Guatemalan dinner was scrumptious and filling. We visited Antigua with Uncle Herby (who is anazing) and drove part of the way in the back of the pickup truck. Something that would be instantly stopped in England is so normal here and the sense of freedom of an open wind rushed view of the surroundings was liberating! Uncle Herbert (did I mention how awesome he is) also took us to the cinema where reclining chairs and waitor service made the experience very pampered and enjoyable. Hebert (did I mention how dashing and good looking he is too?) took us out for our last dinner with some accompanying girls who found Benji rather exotic. One even came back to give him a goodbye peck on the cheek! (Future mrs Soden?)
Overall we have had an amazing last few days in Guate. Tomorrow I shall post the blog about our day of goodbyes, tears and hilarious plane journeys. Keep us in your prayers/thoughts and donate if you think you want to contribute to what I am describing !
HASTA PRONTO! Alex D x
Warm Regards, Alex Denton