Having been back in Malta for almost two months, we recently met up and started reminiscing about our lovely time in Guatemala. About this time last year, we had just started thinking about the idea of participating in this voluntary experience and now one year later we are back and following up on the work that is still being done after we have left.

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We were recently informed by Fr.Anton that the house which we had raised money for, has been finished. The work on the house had started back when we were still in Guatemala, and we had even helped with some work ourselves. Fr.Anton asked us to choose a name for the house ourselves, and after a lot of thought from our end, we came up with the name ‘Casa Esperanza’, which is Spanish for a home of hope. We thought the word hope would be appropriate as our wish was for the family that would be living in this home to have hope for a better future and a better chance at life. We told the name to Fr.Anton and he liked it very much and made the necessary arrangements for the house to be named and blessed.

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Being back in Malta we also enjoyed watching posts by the Stella Maris TV’s facebook page about events and projects that are still going on in Guatemala, such as the Medical Mission project which had been going on during our time in Guatemala. This project involved getting  representatives from multiple villages around Guatemala and educating them about the various illnesses and diseases that they can encounter, how to distinguish between them and also about the relevant medicines they would need. The project also involved giving some medicine to these people to take to their villages and sell, and with the money gained, be able to buy more medicine and start their own small business and be able to sustain themselves better. The event was even live streamed on the Stella Maris TV channel so that other people with access to TVs could learn these facts as well.

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Whilst looking back at our days in Guatemala we started remembering different moments which we had during our visit and realising how much we miss certain small things such as Sunday mass and the opportunity to meet and get to know the local villagers better. We thought about how lucky we were to have gotten the chance to experience some local cultural traditions such as the blessing of a newly built house and the baptism of a number of babies within the villages we visited with Fr.Anton. We also remembered the happiness we used to feel when we saw the joy in the kids eyes when we used to visit the villages and spend time playing with them and getting to know them. We definitely miss the rides in Fr.Anton’s van on the way to these villages, and all the beautiful scenery we used to see.

Looking back we couldn’t be more satisfied and happy to have been part of this experience. We got to experience first hand the feelings of satisfaction and gratitude which many people speak of when mentioning voluntary work abroad. It was an experience which we will truly never forget and which definitely changed our lives. We got to experience the simplicity of life that many people lead and learned to better appreciate what we have and the many opportunities we have. We definitely recommend this experience to anyone who is considering volunteering abroad. It is something so worth doing and is definitely an experience of a lifetime which we believe anyone who has the chance should do at least once in their lives.