Saturday 26th October 2019
I am sorry if you are bored with my phrase “mentoring changes lives”, but it really does and I know that in a few years when the boys I am mentoring can reflect back and see the progress they have made, they will be excited and motivated to help other boys do the same.
For the moment, the weekly mentoring sessions will change somewhat as many have now finished their school year. All the boys have passed their school grades and so can move on to another year. In Guatemala if you don´t pass your school year, and 24% of children don´t, then you either drop out or sit the year again.
We are invited to the many long graduation services and it is an honour to be there at their side as they parade around, get their certificates and, for those graduating primary school, receive their graduation ring that is worn with pride until it no longer fits on your finger.
Two of our girls graduated primary school and it was such a special time to see them so happy and excited about the coming school year. The boys were just as excited and emotional as they knew this would the last time they would see their teachers and many of their school friends.
We have since had many special meals out, trips to the cinema or times of cooking in Casa Alexis to celebrate their achievements. One such day was learning together how to cook a traditional British pasty. It was my first time of cooking this, but was very proud of how the boys took to their new challenge of making pastry and, as the kitchen filled with the smell of pasties over the next hour, we had our more formal mentoring session and planned the next adventure.
A couple of days later I had to be at another party. This time it was to celebrate Damaris´14th and buy a couple of birthday cakes and a shared present from me and the team. Damaris is often mentioned in my blogs as she is very special and one incredible survivor. One day I hope she will have the strength to write down her story so that others can read of her life and see why she is one amazing example of resilience.
Being in the family home, just one room at the rear of a shop that sells alcoholic drinks day and night, was rather claustrophobic. Her parents, now very much back together and doing well, had invited people from the local church, the other rooms in the building and a few cousins and uncles that live not too far away.
The centre piece for any Guatemalan birthday party is when the cake is brought out, candles are lit and we all sing “happy birthday to you”. The person whose birthday it is then has to take a bite out of the cake and when they do so someone pushes their face into the cake. We are all then served cake with facial hair and, being a rather OCD person, it is an interesting experience of how to not eat the bits her face has not been in. I am sure Helen Carmody would be much better at this challenge than me!