August 4, 2010
Written by Sara Magnusson
With the return of our 38 Global Visionaries youth volunteers from their summer trip, we want to recognize the work this group of volunteers has done, as well as the overall work GV has done over the years. This summer, the group focused on three areas; reforestation, hospital volunteering and construction of schools. The spring trips also have three work teams, but reforestation is replaced with coffee farming.
The reforestation crew works together with Guatemalan high school students to reforest rural areas badly in need of reforestation. GV volunteers plant trees along the Guatemalan Sierra Madre, an area whose ecosystem is in need of restoration. Students learn the process of preparing the land, removing invasive species and then plant native trees. This summer trip, there were nearly 1,000 trees planted, bringing the total number to about 14,000 trees.
The group of students who were working in the hospital came home with stories of the emotionally demanding work. The GV vounteers spend their time in a residential hospital called Hospital-Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro. The hospital is home to over 200 patients of all ages and mental or physical disabilities. GV is the only youth group that is able to go into every ward of the hospital, though it did not begin that way. When GV was first visiting Hospital-Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro participants primarily worked with children and babies. Over the years, students have pushed themselves to go into the wards with more challenging patients. Because Gv is now the only youth group that is allowed in all hospital wards, GV volunteers are working with infants, children adults and the elderly of varying physical and mental abilities. Students who came back from this summer’s trip stated that working in the hospital was the most emotionally challenging of the three work teams, each becoming attached to the residents they were spending time with, making it all the more difficult to leave Guatemala.
The construction work team is comprised of students from ITE (Instituto Tecnologico Empreserial), community volunteers and Global Visionaries’ volunteers. GV collaborates with local municipal governments who split the cost of materials and labor costs and help contract engineers, architects, project managers, masons, carpenters and assistants. As of now, GV has aided in building 16 school rooms since 2004. This Summer trip, the team was finishing up putting the roofs the 5th and 6th school rooms in the village of Cerro del Niño, bringing it to a total of 7 school rooms built in this town with GV.