Reflections from our team after the first few days in Guatemala:
Day one - A beautiful day! We had breakfast then headed out from Antigua where we are staying and drove to the town of San Miguel Duenas. We went to Open Windows and met with their founder, Teresa, who talked about the organization and it's progression and growth. She talked about how they used to have a reward system to encourage kids to come and read but they didn't have to after a while because kids started to read for fun. Our Manager of Safety and Environmental Compliance, Rob Kirsch, presented her with the bags of items on her wish list (including pipe cleaners, bags, soccer balls, frisbees, and a number of other things) which she was thrilled to receive. After that we went to meet some of the kids and gave them the toupees which they liked.
Then our entire group walked to site to begin work on a concrete house for a family. Tasks included cutting rebar, moving and levelling dirt, disassembling an outdoor toilet area, building up the cinder blocks and adding concrete, etc. The family were all present and helping with the process. They are wonderful.
We had lunch at a local Guatemalan host's house and split up into two groups. One group went to Open Windows and read and worked with the kids. The other group went back to work on the house. A long day but an incredibly fulfilling one.
A few other things worth mentioning...On our drive to San Miguel we saw a volcano erupting, there are a ton of stray dogs, a truck with the back open drove by us full to the brim with coffee beans, a common security system is to have barbed wire on top of your fence but with glass shards on top sticking up, and they have the most beautiful doors on buildings.
An amazing place and an amazing team - can't wait for the next few days!
Hopewell Residential Communities
DWC Corporate Social Responsibility Team
Guatemala, March 2013