From June 8 to 15, thirteen students (Sachin Gulati ‘21, Connor Ketchum ‘20, Matthew Castellano ‘20, Shane Stanton ‘20, Cade Lenczycki ‘20, William Absey ‘20, William Li ‘21, Aidan Tompkins ‘20, Armaan Rigby ‘20, Jack Geoghegan ‘21, Scott Martin ‘20, Laurence Bao ’20 and Zachary Rosen’20) and four Debarton teachers (Dan Pieraccini, Jessica McKeever, Tiffany Luludis and Matthew White) traveled to Guatemala to build three houses with From Houses to Homes (De Casas A Hogares). The organization’s motto is ‘Changing the world one family at a time’ which is exactly what it does in the impoverished country of Guatemala. See mission photos here...
Guatemala is a country rich in natural beauty and in spirit but, financially, has among the poorest living standards in Central America.
The majority of Guatemalans are victims of civil war, hunger, prejudice, poverty, and lack of education. Founded by Joe Collins in 2004, From Houses to Homes focuses on strengthening family unity and community harmony in Highland Guatemala. The organization recruits volunteers, like our Delbarton student/teacher team, to build houses to improve the standards of day-to-day living for families. These modest homes constructed of cinder block replace cornstalk or sheet metal shacks. To date, the group has built over 1400 homes for families, parents and children who work with volunteers during the construction process. Each home bears a framed sign with the name of the volunteer group whose sweat equity created the structure.
The three homes Delbarton built were for families with many young children under the age of 7 whoseparents make less than $10 a day working in the fields. At the end of the week, each family was able to move its belongings into a sturdy well-constructed house, giving parents and children a sense of security and stability, and protecting them from the elements.
Our boys and teachers were busy all week digging ditches, making cement, hefting cinder blocks and cementing them into place, and painting the completed houses. Students labored steadily from Monday through Friday, and broke up the time by interacting with families, playing soccer with local children during lunch breaks, and visiting a Guatemalan school. The Delbarton excursion also included several cultural experiences like learning how to make chocolate from local cacao beans, shaping and polishing jade jewelry from locally sourced stones, visiting church ruins from the 1500s, and hiking the volcano that dominates the horizon in Upper Guatemala.
Mission moderator Matt White says, “All in all, it was a great trip, and everyone learned a lot. Hopefully the lessons they learned will stick with them for the rest of their lives.”
We salute our gang of seventeen students and teachers that spent part of summer vacation working hard to improve the living conditions of three Guatemalan families!