One of the most valuable experiences when traveling is hearing from the people that live there everyday and experience the challenges that come with it. After a peace treaty was signed in 1996, Guatemala vowed to change the social patterns that plagued them years prior. Yet, the genocide and lost family members yet to be recovered left a stain on the culture today. This truth has led a group of women to try to repair the damage done by the civil war. Today we had the pleasure of having breakfast with them to hear their stories and learn more about their cause. The consortium that also supports Rodrigo's efforts with Manos Amigas, stands behind an organization founded originally by a Dutch missionary for the purpose of empowering women to make a change. Shortly after it began a number of women came out of the woodwork to join this movement. Some of their work focuses on recovering the lost, gathering memories and accounts to memorialize the civil war and those left behind, build up the youth through sport and recreation to get them working together in a positive way and helping the victims of the history create a better future for themselves. You could really taste a unique mixture of heartache and hope during our time with them today. And the hope rests in the hands of the future- the Guatemalan youth who make up 70% of the population- to help restore the past.
We learned about some shocking truths today that make you sad and in moments angry that they exist. One of these realities is that kids can not just be kids. They have to fend for their family as early as 8-10 years old. The majority of children drop out of school only after 3-5 years not out of desire but out of necessity because they have to support their family. Those that dream for something more have to put those desires to rest and themselves last. An example of this is 22 year old Anna, a member of the women's group and a recent graduate of high school. In this way she is unique because she was able to finish secondary school but one of many in that out of necessity she has to take care of her abandoned nephew and family instead of attending nursing school, something she has always wanted to do. A Nursing program here in Guatemala including books and materials cost only about $500 in total. Hearing that really moved us sitting at the opposite side of the table. For the cost of a cheap month's rent in the US, one intelligent, promising young Guatemalan woman can become a nurse. Here in Guatemala, a little can go a long, long way. We are excited to see where we can help as Global Players.
After breakfast with the women's group and an eye opening look at the country's past and present we totally flipped the switch on the day and headed to a surf camp to check out the Pacific and take in our trip thus far. As the pattern for most of our journey this week, we took a car to a riverboat to arrive at our destination: Paredon Surf House. Sure we had to maneuver our way on a dirt road past a dozen pigs, some chickens and a horse or two but finally there it was ahead, the ocean. We spent the afternoon surfing, reflecting and resting before our final day in Guatemala. Back to Antigua mañana for a final look at the schools, meeting with Rodrigo, Gaby and the consortium before wrapping it up here in Central America.