As January marks the New Year, it also marks the time for the annual Programa Sueños mission trip to visit students and parents in San Antonio, Guatemala. January is also a perfect time in New York for chilly weather and winter storms like Helena to wreak havoc on travel plans.
While volunteer Rachel Bosworth managed to make it to Guatemala City as planned, founder Jazmin Carrillo, photographer David Benthal, and volunteer Alice Falcone were not as lucky. After 40 hours of delays, flight changes, ultimate cancellations, and missed connections, the rest of our crew made it to Guatemala! With suitcases of donated school supplies and hopeful hearts, we set on our way to the remote village.
Jazmin’s (known as “Lucy” to locals) family graciously welcomed us into their home for our week-long stay. We awoke to children wandering around the family compound, eager to see new and old faces, and the sounds and smells of homemade tortillas being made for breakfast. Because we are New Yorkers at heart, we did bring our own coffee to share from North Fork Roasting Co., which happens to be one of our biggest supporters. Thanks for the coffee, ladies!
The village is small and humble, and the people offer more than they have with a smile. This is something we already knew, but is still a surprise every time.
Our first day we walked took the very short walk (two minutes, actually) to the school that has been benefitting from Programa Sueños since 2013. Jazmin spoke to the students and parents as their school year was ready to begin, and met with the principal and teachers to go over the week’s plans.
David set up shop in a small classroom, one of three that accommodates the approximately 200 students that attend. We are developing profiles of all of the students to individually introduce them to our supporters, and the world. Excited for newcomers and of course to have their photo taken with their friend, David, the students eagerly awaited their turn, peering through classroom windows at lucky classmates. Stay tuned for more on students like these…
It was a long afternoon for the families, but we took a lunch break as the children played. They awed at David’s shots and called “Lucy! Lucy!” to play football even after they finished practicing. We admired them in their uniforms that bared the “Programa Sueños” name on the back. As we spent time in the open dirt field (future home of a new school…) near the family home with the kids, we heard the marching band practicing in the distance.
As the music grew louder we quickly realized it was not practice, but a performance. As the players rounded the corner into the field, looking beautiful in their crisp red and white uniforms, it was our team that had the biggest smiles. Drums, trumpets, and chimes played to the maestro’s command, and we were awe struck at how much they learned over the course of a year. The finale included front players placing their instruments down and taking us by the hands to dance, and a sign reading “Beneviendos Programa Sueños!” Their appreciation in that moment alone is worth the trip every year.
See a clip of the performance and follow more of our adventure here.
Our trip has only just begun, and we’re eager to share more of this journey with you.