I’m recently back from I think my 12th trip to Guatemala (I’ve lost track) and I have to say this one was one of my favorites! If you’ve missed out on all my trip blogs over the years, you can read them HERE.
As always our partner in making all of our trips to Guatemala possible is Catalyst Resources International. The Founders, Paula and Fontaine Green have become dear friends and they always make us feel special.
I try very hard to curate teams that will work well side by side and become friends (if they aren’t already) – after all we are together 24 hours a day for 6 days. There is no time for drama or whining – just hard work, flexibility and lots of love and laughter! This year we only had 7 (MIGHTY) women and 1 college boy – my college roommate Jen Bastian and her 23 year old son Matt, my friend from middle school (who I had not seen in 35 years!!) Noonan O’Shea and her 18 year old daughter Molly, my designer friends Julie Montgomery and Shelly Rosenberg and my journalist friend Katherine Michalak. What a team it was!
This year we worked in the very poor village of Santa Maria de Jesus and built a home for a family of six. This family (as every one we have built for), lived in a small one room shack with 2 mattresses on a dirt floor, 2 cupboards to hold clothes and kitchen items, 1 light bulb outside the shack and no running water. The bathroom was a hole in the ground inside an area covered by piece of fabric for privacy.
This was the scene when we arrived. The concrete pad had been poured and a pile of lumbar awaited us!
We hiked vertically for 20 minutes to get to the location. I seriously thought I was going to die LOL. However, the view was AMAZING and we had a gorgeous breeze every day.
As usual, the Guatemalan kids are happy, energetic and thrilled to hang out with us. Our generous team came prepared with Spanish/English books to read, flashcards, paper with crayons and watercolors etc. Jen even thought to bring a tarp knowing that the ground is always a mess.
But alas there is work to be done! Our CRI foreman was amazed at our prowess:) Jen and Shelly cut all the wood and the rest of us were pounding nails for 3 days.
This little neighborhood boy below was 12 years old. He has never been to school – can’t read or write (heartbreaking) – but WOW could he pound a nail. He helped Julie and I build an entire wall. He was so proud of his work!
The Dad (Jorge) made that vertical climb with the bunk beds on his back. OMG!!!
He kept crying throughout our 3 days of building. I think he was just overwhelmed by the blessings that were being bestowed upon his family. I love this picture of him looking out the window of his new clean, safe, sturdy home to the beautiful mountains beyond. He was so grateful.
Finally our sweet little house was complete and it was reveal day just like at home (but better)!
The house was “dedicated” to the family with our friends from CRI Edgar and Boris leading the blessing to the family. You can tell the parents Jorge and Rosa are so worn and tired. This house will change their lives in so many ways.
When the parents get their first set of keys (probably ever in their lives), I’m always a mess of tears.
Freshly made beds with pre-washed sheets that smell like Downy:)
Special touches thanks to our team and our foreman Daniel that built the shelves with scrap wood.
Toys and Homegoods bags to hold clothes!
A big thanks to Beth Lacefield of Lacefield Designs for our beautiful panels (aka bedroom doors)
Happy kids happy hearts:)
Goodbye Santa Maria de Jesus. Until next year!
Hello Chateau DeFay Vineyards.
(Note: I’ve never laughed so hard watching this wine tasting after a long day in the village.)
Lunch was divine…
The following day was dedicated to loving on orphans with thoughtful gifts that we had brought for the special children at House of Hope and CRI’s new orphanages Mimi’s House 1 & 2. These orphanages are amazing and operate solely on donations. Please consider donating or sponsoring a child!
Note: I am currently working on interior layouts and window treatments for all the rooms at Mimi’s 2 so stay tuned for an update!
Our final day was spent eating amazing food, drinking great wine, riding in tuk-tuks and supporting the local economy in a BIG way in the ancient town of Antigua.
We fueled our shopping energy with a long lunch at one of my favorite restaurants Panza Verde.
Shelly was so happy to see white table cloths and great wine:)
Boy did we shop:) I need to get my butt in gear and open a pop up shop one day.
And that’s a wrap for 2019!
I can’t stress enough how NONE of this would be possible without (2) main components: YOUR donations – every dollar counts and means the world to these families and orphans and our CRI team in Guatemala. Please check out their website and donate if you feel moved to do so.
Our 2020 trip is already in the works so stay tuned.
With love, blessings and a reminder to pay it forward,