Monthly Archives: December 2015

It’s Poetry Friday!

Happy Poetry Friday! Mr. Linky has kindly volunteered to help with the round-up this week. Please leave your links in the form at the end of this post.

November was an exciting month for me. My husband and I went on a service-learning trip to the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala with a group from our temple. We have not travelled a lot, and we have never had an experience remotely like this before. I admit to being nervous before the trip–I was worried about being overwhelmed or depressed by the poverty. I was concerned that I would not be able to communicate with people with my almost non-existent knowledge of Spanish. And I did not want to feel like a rich American who had come to swoop in and solve problems that I knew little about.

But my concerns were unfounded. Guatemala is a place of amazing beauty. And while the poverty is severe, the people we met did not act downtrodden or depressed. In fact, the children of these families were cheerful and eager to join in on our projects. I hope we contributed in some small way to improving the lives of a few families. I know I gained immensely from the experience.

Our group worked primarily with two Guatemalan organizations: The Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP) and Mayan Families. One of IMAP’s main goals is to create food sovereignty with organic gardens that preserve Mayan seed banks and promote biodiversity. We helped put in a garden for a single mom and her children who lived in a community built after the 2005 hurricane displaced indigenous farmers from their land. It was amazing to see the change in the family’s small yard–and wonderful to see how the kids jumped in to dig and plant (by the second day 13-year old Lesley had decided that she was going to be a gardener when she grows up.) IMG_6494We worked on several projects with Mayan Families, including building a chicken coop for a single mom and her 10 children (who lived in three rooms with a leaky tin roof.) The oldest son works as a builder’s assistant and was enamored with the power tools that the group had brought. The younger kids jumped in with hammering and painting. We also built stoves for families that had previously used open flames for cooking.

I’ve whittled down my 1000 photos from the trip to a not-quite-manageable number. Here are a few of my favorites, and a draft of a poem inspired by the experience.IMG_6874  IMG_6803                                 IMG_6868         IMG_6900  IMG_6775IMG_6959IMG_7086 IMG_7200

Eight Days in Guatemala

A hoe, a rake,
new skills to learn–

we plant, we grow,
we reap in turn.

With hammer and nails
with wood and scraps,

we join and build,
we bridge our gaps.

A gesture, a smile,
to give, to take,

with work and cheer,
new worlds to make.
–Buffy Silverman, November, 2015