Hearts captivated in Guatemala

Hearts captivated in Guatemala

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VISIT TO SKD GUATAMALA 30.04.22- 07.05.22

Where to begin? It’s been nearly two weeks since my husband Paul and myself said a teary farewell to Guatemala, and as a woman of many (as opposed to few!) words, I am still finding it almost impossible to summarise all we saw and experienced throughout our weeklong visit to Guatemala.

Having supported the work that God has been doing through Dunc for over 24 years, it was SO exciting to finally have the opportunity to meet the children, young people and the team whom we had been reading about and praying for over the past decades. Personally, I was feeling a little nervous as we touched down on the Guatemala City airport runway. I am not someone who easily embraces uncertainty, and so felt a little unsettled as I stepped into a country, a culture and whole series of unknowns that were well beyond my frame of reference. those feelings immediately melted away as Dunc began to introduce us to the people, the places and the country that first captured his heart so many years ago and as he explained how God had gradually built the exceptional ministry and partnerships that make Street Kids Direct the charity that it has become today.

My own heart was also captivated by all the children and young people whom I had the privilege of meeting, whose trauma and suffering I will never even begin to understand. The opportunity to talk with the inspirational staff and volunteers who love & serve the at-risk children added fuel to my own faith. The sacrificial, generous and servant hearted nature of God which I witnessed in each person has remained with me on my return home. Our afternoons spent in La Terminal and in the developing slum area of Santa Faz, finally gave me the opportunity to see in person what I had previously only tried to imagine in my mind’s eye. In a way, I felt as if I were finally home. The disjointed ideas I had for years held in my mind were discarded; so THIS is where Danilo lives; so THIS is Brayan’s family; soTHIS is how long it takes Elida to get to Centro Opp in Zone 11 to attend the youth gatherings. As Dunc kept saying. ‘See..they are REAL PEOPLE and these are REAL PLACES!” have so many stories to share, but I know this is meant to be blog not a novel!  So I will choose just one.

On the third day of our visit, we spent a very emotional the morning at El Centro (that is a story for another time!) which is currently being used for schooling, as Guatemalan schools having remained closed since the pandemic began. For those children with no online access, education at home has not been a possibility. There we met a young teenage girl called Pamela, who had a warm but reserved demeanour and who appeared to be well focussed on her studies.

At the end of the school morning, her brother Danilo came to collect her, as she needed to return to her home in La Terminal to start work on the city dump in the afternoon. We all escorted Pamela home, and during that walk, Dunc introduced us to La Terminal. I have no words to adequately describe the area, except that it truly bombards every sense, defies every expectation and photos don’t even touch the surface as an illustration! I loved it there.

After about 20 minutes, we arrived at Pamela’s home, were introduced to her mother and Pamela went to get ready for her afternoon working on the dump. 

I was immediately struck by the extreme contrasts between Pamela’s home/work life and all that I had observed when she attended school.  In El Centro, the smartly presented, studious young women could have been a teenager that I work alongside in my youth work role in the UK. And yet, the reality is that Pamela lives in poverty, spending many hours working on the dangerous city rubbish dump to earn a small amount of money to support her family. Pamela’s resilience, hope and strength of character in being able to hold those two parts of her young life equally in balance astonished me. As the week continued, I came to see this strength, resilience & hope repeatedly in the lives of other young people that SKD are supporting and mentoring. Dunc explained, the staff & volunteers constantly tell the children ‘ Mereces Lo Mejor’ -‘You Deserve the Best’. For Pamela and the other at-risk children with whom SKD are working, growing up in La Terminal or in a developing slum area means that it is initially almost impossible to visualise a life which is different to that which they are currently accustomed.

Through the building of relationships of love & consistency, the provision of education & mentoring and being able to make use of the fantastic Centro Opp and El Centro facilities, the children are given a glimpse of what ‘the best’ could look like in their future and are given opportunity to work towards this as a reality. 

Thank you to EVERYONE who made this visit so memorable - for your generosity, your hospitality, and your patience.  A special thank you must go to our Dr House styled host Dunc. It has changed our lives.

Helen & Paul Carmody




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