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Help For Hogar

Photo by Ella N.

Photo by Ella N.

Ella N. and Sarah S.

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Guatemala is home to more than 370,000 orphans, 90 of which live at the Hogar Miguel Magone. Last summer, Austin’s Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church took a mission trip to the orphanage to help the children and caretakers there. Eighth grader Alyssa S. was lucky enough to go on the trip with her family.

Their group of around 35 people spent a week in Guatemala playing with the children and taking over daily activities. As a result of the group’s work, the teachers working at the orphanage were able to take a break and see their families, something they hadn’t been able to do in years.

The daily routine at the Hogar began at around five a.m. and ended at around 10 p.m., lasting over 14 hours.

“I would wake up at five am, go to the breakfast hall, and make breakfast for the kids,” Alyssa said. “Then, I would get breakfast for myself afterwards since we can’t eat the same food [as the kids]. I would walk the older kids to school, then come back and play with the very little boy’s until lunchtime. I’d take them to the lunch hall and then meet up with the kids who just got back from school. I’d help them change out of their uniforms then play with the younger kids until shower time, which is right before dinner. I had to shower the very little boys, so it was crazy in there. Afterwards, we took everyone to dinner, then played with them until they had to go to sleep. I ate dinner somewhere in that time frame.”

Alyssa claims that the walk to school was probably the most hectic part of her day. The norms for people in Guatemala are very different from the United States.

“The trip to school was really crazy because the kids would just catch rides on random vans and trucks driving by,” Alyssa said. “They would grab onto the sides and hang on all the way into town. I had to ride in a random van with them one time. I’ve never been anywhere so crowded.”

The group stayed at a house by the orphanage because they were not allowed to sleep near the children. Most of the children at the orphanage had lice and other issues.

“One thing that was different in their society was that we couldn’t even drink the same water as them,” Alyssa said. “We couldn’t even drink the tap water because it had bad bacteria that we weren’t immune to. The helpers there had to get us bottled water instead.”

Despite all these precautions, Alyssa still got sick during the mission trip.

“I was in bed all day,” Alyssa said. “I had a dream one night that one of the kids from the orphanage came into my room, climbed onto my bed, and laid on my pillow. I woke up and threw the pillow off my bed because all the kids had lice and I thought I would get it from the imaginary child.”

This mission trip has inspired Alyssa to pursue teaching as a future career. Given the opportunity, she says she wouldn’t even consider saying no.

“I learned that even in bad situations we should be very grateful for all that we have,” Alyssa said. “So many young children in the world have it so much worse.”

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