Saturday 9th July. After a lot of preparation, the day we had been anticipating for months finally arrived. We, a group of 11 young people aged between twenty and thirty-two years started meeting last November in order to plan future fund raising events as well as to get to know each other better.
All this came about when Fr Mario Dimech had expressed his wish to gather a small group to visit the Parish under the care of Fr Anton Grech, with whom he had spent six months in San Manuel Chaparron. We departed from Malta on Saturday 9th July and arrived in Guatemala City almost two days later on Sunday 10th July. Despite the long journey, the group remained motivated and excited for our first ever voluntary experience. Our main project in this voluntary experience is that of the construction of three houses, which were funded through the generous donations of various individuals. On the first day, we visited the houses that we will be working in and met the families that we would be helping out.
The physical work commenced the following day, when we divided ourselves into groups and set off without knowing what to expect. The work necessary varied according to the stage of
construction of each house. We started to get to know our families better. The group assigned to the first house was to work with Wilmer, the sacristan of Manantial Church. Wilmer lives together with his extended family, however has no space to sleep and has been sleeping on a hammock for the past two years, allowing his family to sleep inside. Thanks to this project, Wilmer will now have a place to start his own family. The second group was to work on Miguel and Carmelina’s house. The condition of the house they have at present urged the need for a new and better dwelling. The third house belongs to Carlos and Maria, who together with their children and grandchildren, live in a limited space. We ended our working day with a mass at Manantial Church, during which we were all extremely moved by the warm welcome we received. The whole experience was unlike anything we had ever experienced in Malta.
The following day, we visited two villages found in the heart of the jungle, Creek Maya and
Lámpara. Our contribution to such visits is the planning of various games to play with the local children, whilst their parents participate in the mass that is held monthly in their village. The twohour journey had many ups and downs, literally and metaphorically, which made us wonder whether such a trip was worth the struggle. While we were travelling we also noticed locals walking towards the centre of the village where the monthly mass was to be held. The children’s laughter and excitement soon made us forget our long trip.
On Thursday, we continued working on the houses, where construction was progressing swiftly. Similarly, on Friday morning we went back to work on the houses, whilst in the afternoon we unloaded the container after it was finally released from the port. Thanks to the help of locals, a week’s worth of sorting and loading, took us less than two hours to unload. ¡Gracias!
The next day, we were led by a group of five local women to visit the houses of elderly and poorly people. Although emotionally it was a difficult experience for the group, we could feel that our presence and prayers meant a lot to them. We then made our way to two other villages, Baltimore and Santa Maria del Mar, which are situated by the sea. Apart from the picturesque views and the children’s excitement, the greetings we received from the locals, made this an even more memorable experience.
We started off Sunday with a mass, after which Fr Anton individually introduced us to the
community of Santo Hermano Pedro Parish. We then left for the Q’eqchi’ village of San Pedro,
where we organised games for the children in the local church, whilst a wedding ceremony was held outside.