This past spring, as many of you know, I had the opportunity to visit Guatemala with a group of students from UMA. It was a fantastic trip and I fell deeply in love with the beautiful people of Guatemala. We visited many families, helped build a home, visited numerous sites, delivered much need items and learned some incredible life changing lessons. The entire trip was truly a rewarding experience.
While visiting Guatemala our group hiked a volcano named Pacaya. It was one of the most exciting things I have ever done. Sadly, Pacaya erupted in May destroying virtually everything in its wake. In my cell phone, I have kept a photo, of three little boys I met while I was there. I see their little faces every time I pick up my phone and it serves as a reminder to me that Pacaya happened. I sometimes find myself staring at their picture wondering where they are and what they are doing. Are they safe? Are their parents safe? You see for me, from the moment I learned of the volcano erupting I have felt like I needed to return.
In those days after the eruption I was in contact with the people at Common Hope and As Green As It Gets (the two organizations we volunteered with) both encouraged me to wait until the dust settled a bit, and then they would welcome me back.
I have been pursuing a degree in English, Women’s Studies and Africana Studies for some time now. My dream is to teach English abroad; empowering men, women, and children to rise above oppression through education. I took this fall semester off from school because the pull in my heart to help the people of Guatemala was stronger than anything.
During this time I have been working as much as I possibly can to save money to make the return trip. Despite being out of college the learning hasn’t stopped I am absorbing as much Spanish as I can and mastering a new hobby, photography. My Spanish speaking friends have assured me I will be just fine. Photography on the other hand…I want to be able to capture as much as I can on film to share with all of you.
This trip will be very different this time in many ways. First, I will not be with a group, I will be on my own. I will be paying my own way, and serving a personal mission. I will be landing in Guatemala City and making my way to Antigua on my own, making contact with Common Home as a single person, touring the city alone, and finding my way around all on my own. I am a bit nervous but also excited. You see, this is something I have to do.
I have set the date for January 4, 2011. My plan is to be in Guatemala for fourteen days. I will be working with Common Hope primarily and making a visit to As Green As It Gets. As you can imagine the cities in the path of the volcano were devastated and are in desperate need of all types of aid.
I am hoping that I can count on my friends and family to once again support me on this trip, as you have in the past, by helping me to fill two fifty pound suitcase with donations. No donation will be refused as everything is needed.
Please follow my blog: http://juliannasterling.blogspot.com/ Donations will accepted now through January 3, 2011.
I will post a detail wish list in a few days for those who need it.
Thank you again!