Last Friday, a group of 26 sweet children from La Limonada, a community in Zone 5 of Guatemala City showed up at my school. Their visit was the culmination of the Service Learning project that 20 of my 7th Grade Students experienced this year. The project started with viewing “Reparando,” followed by a visit with my good friends Tita and Lucia who work in La Limonada, and also involved a bit of fundraising for their schools and for four other Guatemalan organizations.
While I will always want my students to be able to do “more,” I am thankful for a principal who carves out time within our school days so that are students eyes can be opened to the reality that surrounds them in their own country.
I work with Middle School kids. When I have the chance to be around smaller children, I’m always surprised by a few things: their affection, their willingness to participate, their laughter, and the things that bring a smile to their faces.
My 7th graders planned a great morning – icebreaker games, a snack (pan con frijol, of course), centers focusing on the values that are being studied in the academies in La Limonada right now, and outdoor activities. What a plan!
Enter Dulce, Dayana, and Nimsy.
I don’t think these girls had a problem with the plan; I just think something else caught their eye and imagination. After all, they are kids. During one of the centers, Nimsy said, “tengo sed,” so we went to the drinking fountain. I helped her take a drink, and we went back to the classroom. Then, the whispering start and the rumors grew until all the children wanted to see this fountain. The boys, who were picturing Niagra Falls, lost interest quickly. However, these three girls took rotating shifts to the drinking fountain for the rest of our time in centers.
Next came outdoor games – soccer, basketball, four square, SPUD, and more!
Not for the three musketeers – for one full hour we guzzled at the drinking fountain until we couldn’t handle it anymore, then we went to the bathroom. Guzzle. Bathroom. Guzzle. Bathroom.
My students thought it was cute, but they didn’t have the context to understand whatwas happening. With each trip to the drinking fountain, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not these girls had their basic needs met at home. Were they safe? Did they have access to running water? If not, did they have access to clean water? Nutrition?
My heart was breaking for the drinking fountain girls, so we drank and drank and drank until it was time to go.
We sent the kids back with a snack and a book.
Thank Jesus that these sweet children were met in La Limonada not only by their families, but also by the Vidas Plenas staff. Thank Jesus that my friends at Vidas Plenas are present in La Limonada every day. They are there to love on these precious children and support their families. They are there to teach, train, encourage, and assist. They are there just to be there. They are there to help meet people’s basic needs.
We can help meet people’s basic needs, too. Just this past week, Lemonade International opened an emergency relief fund through their Spring Forward campaign. Check out the website – there is a short video explaining the types of needs that will be met through this campaign, and opportunities to give.
As Tita says in the video, “there are so many needs in La Limonada.” My prayer is that there are just as many people who are willing to help meet those needs.