This was our second full day here in Guatemala, and today we had the opportunity to venture outside of the gates of Valley and head into some of the nearby aldeas (villages). The word for the day is contrast.

As we left Valley, a place surrounded by natural beauty and filled with simple, basic accommodations, we drove past a local equestrian school and country club. Definitely a contrast in lifestyles. The real impact came just a kilometer or so down the road when we drove through the first of the neighboring villages. The poverty was extreme – tiny houses (mostly one-room homes) with tin roofs and dirt floors. Our adventure for the day was to volunteer at Mano Amiga, a local agency that runs a small school and provides support services for the families of the children.


Two staff members joined us in our cars and directed us to 5 different homes where we delivered food baskets to the families. In one situation, we met a single mom with 4 children all living in one room – half of which was taken up by the bed. It was humbling to be part of this outreach, and uncomfortable as well. As we left each family and thanked them for the opportunity to visit with them, I could only hope that our greetings and conversation had let them know that we respected them and didn’t want to offend their dignity.


Such a balance, reaching out to a brother or sister in need and letting them know that you appreciate them for who they are. Perhaps one of the more touching moments was when a family shared with us that they were part of a local faith community; the husband offered a prayer of blessing for each of us. A day of giving and receiving.

Sr. Barbara Vano

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