Sunday, September 10, 2017

Independence Day Celebrations at New Life School

One thing is certain amid all the uncertainties in Guatemala.  Guatemalans love their country, their heritage and their independence. I have always been impressed with the respect paid to the flag and the national anthem (I am sure it has six stanzas and lasts 5 minutes--exaggeration maybe, but it is long compared to our perfunctory singing of one verse of the National Anthem in the US) by the citizens here. Our partnership with New Life School helps us to appreciate this patriotism even more as we celebrate national holidays with them.

The beautiful, but rarely seen quetzal
lives in the northern part of the country
The name of the national flower
actually translates to mean
"white nun."
Independence Day is not until September 15, but in the schools the celebration begins long before that.  The hallways at New Life are already adorned with pictures the students have made of quetzales (the national bird), marimbas (the national instrument), monjas blancas (the national flower), ceiba trees (the national tree) and national heroes of Guatemala.

Presentations of gymnastics, poetry, and singing, highlighting Guatemalan culture, are held throughout late August and early September.

Some of the boys presenting a traditional dance

Gymnastic performance by some of the older students

Our little ones were not left out.
Here Seno Lilia's students are waiting to perform.

Each school selects an honor court (think homecoming, but on an elementary level) to represent the school in the Independence Day parade.  New Life is excited to be part of the celebration in Santa Maria de Jesus.

Our 2017 Ninos and Senoritas representing New Life
with Seno Rosa Angelica (Gr. 2) and Profe Manuel (Gr. 6)

And, lest you think that it has all been fun and games at the school this month (though learning should be fun, and games are useful teaching tools!), there has been academic preparation for the holiday, as well.  Below are some pictures of Seno Nisza's fifth grade students who gave speeches depicting various presidents of Guatemala.

Our Mission and Vision

Mission:  To improve the lives of the poor and disabled, now and for eternity through discipleship and social services.

Vision:  To empower our clients and staff to discover and embrace their God-given purpose through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Fidel, el reciclador

No, our parking space doesn't look like this because we throw trash around.  This is the location of a small business which Fidel, assisted by Moises, has started our of our home.

About six months ago, a small recycling store opened up across the street from Casa de Esperanza.  I happened to mention to Fidel that maybe he should start collecting our recyclable products and take them over there to get a little (very little) money.

I was absolutely delighted when the next day he presented me with a flyer, introducing himself as "Fidel, el reciclador" (Fidel the recycler).  He explained that he would be happy to come and collect recycling from any homes in the area, and provided all his contact information.  

He had written and printed the flyer using his computer, and had taken it to a local copy center to be duplicated (he paid for this himself out of his monthly spending money).  He then went around town distributing these announcements to our neighbors.

In a short time, he not only was collecting recycling, but neighbors were bringing it by our house to drop off.

So how, you ask, does a young man who can't use his arms sort through all this stuff?  The same way he does everything else--with his feet.

First, Moises helps Fidel to dump out all the trash which is normally stored in barrels outside our home.

Fidel then goes though and pulls out all the glass and plastic that he can, sitting sideways on his chair, driving it with one foot as he grabs the recycling with his other foot.  He then drives over and puts the item in the proper barrel.

You really need to watch this video!

Moy will pick up anything Fidel can't, but honestly, he gets most of it!

Fidel then uses his power chair to drive over and crush any tin cans remaining on the ground.  Not the way I would have suggested, but it works for him.  Moy then collects the cans, placing them in their barrel.

A few times a month, Fidel hauls all of this over to the store across the street and earns a bit of cash, which he shares with Moy.  

In a country where employment for those with disabilities is almost impossible to find, Fidel has stepped out and created his own.  While it may not seem like much, there are many able-bodied people in this country who support their families by collecting recycling, so this is a "normal" occupation among the poor.

What are his plans for the future?  Fidel hopes to expand his business to the point where he can someday rent his own house and hire someone to care for him.  Lofty dreams, to be sure, but I think he'll do it.

You go, Fidel!