Feedback is trickling in from the travelers that just got back from Guatemala:
“Great trip, eh?” from Cindie Moore.
“An amazing trip!” from Sarah Sweeney.
“Many thanks for making me feel such a welcome part of this wonderful group. – I learned so much about the country, so much from the Guatemalans, and so much about each of you involved in this wonderful work done to help the Mam people. I consider myself so fortunate to have been along for a magical ride, flat tire and all.” From Bob McLean.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Nacoochee to share my reflections.” From Sarah Vaughan. Originally from Jamaica, she and Kip Gerard from Chapel Hill each contributed in special ways.
The two main objectives were to attend the General Assembly of the Association of Mam Christian Women for Development and to help with a health fair for children and mothers. Eighteen Women’s groups gave their reports about using their revolving funds for projects such as raising cattle, pigs, chickens, and cows, and making chocolate, coffee, soap, and cheese. An impressive power-point presentation on the progress of the nutrition program was given while the Sweeney Nacoochee volunteers cared for the children and tried to keep them from buying junk food!
Perched on a ridge off the highest mountain in western Guatemala was the village that was chosen for the health fair. The Presbyterian pastor opened up his entire new home for the health fair. Nacoochee Travelers were paired with health promoters, doctors, and nurses as 96 children were measured, weighed, and screened for health problems while their mothers received nutritional supplements, vitamins, and medicines, most supplied through MAP International and carried in our suitcases but dispensed efficiently by Edy Diaz who is studying medicine in Quetzaltenango. Dottie Foster and Rosa Maria Eliaz instructed children on dental health with Dr. Crumpton’s generous donation of brushes and dental floss, and children enjoyed coloring pages of Jennifer Herrera’s Health book with Cindie Moore’s crayon packs. The pastor’s home became an art gallery. Dottie’s grandson Austin Foster and Samantha Poole led games and soccer practice, which ended up with joyous singing games and cups of fruit supplied by the Women’s Association.
Other highlights of the trip were a trip by boat to a cooperative project on Lake Atitlan, a rousing welcome by the new Ostuncalco marimba band at the Centro Clinico Maya, a sewing class graduation and a trip to a coffee farm in Las Barrancas. After the Sunday service in Pueblo Nuevo we all enjoyed a tortilla making class. A national blockade of major highways by truck drivers protesting high gas prices curtailed some of our activities, but by having us leave at 3 am for the Zaculeo Archeological site in Huehuetenango, our trusted CEDEPCA guides were able to get us through the road blocks. Elsa Hernandez, a Mam archeologist gave us a fresh perspective on the ruins which had been poorly reconstructed by the United Fruit Company, but point to the sacred origin of the Mam people. A detour through the back roads of Guatemala got us safely back to Guatemala City in time for our flights . In spite of an earthquake, volcanic eruptions, and a flat tire, the Nacoochee Presbyterian Immersion trip was a blessing in reestablishing relationships and providing understanding of the impacts of a pandemic, climate change, and a war in Ukraine on people of limited means but indomitable faith and persistence.
The photos below are just a few we wanted to highlight. If you click on each photo it will open up to the larger size. To see a full gallery of photos from the trip, please click HERE.