By Marco Lot, University of Windsor Trip Participant, Cerro Blanco de Sanarate, Guatemala
During my Outreach Trip with SOS not only did I gain a new life experience, but a whole other family. My GuatSquad! As I walked on the plane with 18 other people on our way to Guatemala, I knew there would be no going back to being complete strangers. We just skipped the whole “getting to know each other” phase and went straight to the “we are going to be best friends” phase. It took all of us such a short period of time to start telling personal stories and laughing about every little thing. This was even with our NGO leader for the trip, Sterling! He was like a big brother to all of us and we couldn’t have asked for a better leader!
Being this close with everyone made me feel extremely comfortable because I was definitely nervous coming into this trip. I was worried that with 19 people, tensions and emotions would get high, but not once did I feel like there was any of that! We made sure that when we needed our space we got it! We would go and sit on the cliff in our backyard and just stare out at the mountains and we reflect on the day.
As soon as we got to our community, we set up our house, and Alberto, the owner, came and wanted to help us in any way that he could. He made sure that everyone who was sleeping on the porch didn’t get rained on and put up a tarp every night.
One of the best adventures of our trip was a hike along a cliff to go meet the most loving family in the world! We met a 14 year old girl on our worksite, Sayra, who invited us to visit her home and would not take no for an answer. We got there and Sayra and her family wanted to give us everything! Her brother, Mario, went in the farm and cut down sugar cane for us all to try, they cut down every coconut off the tree for us, took us to see their new baby cows, and even cooked dinner for us! By the end of the trip, it was like we became part of their family and it was like our home away from home.
Ever since I have been home, there hasn’t been a day that has gone by when I don’t think about each and every person on that trip, as well as every person that I met in the community of Cerro Blanco de Sanarate. I consider all of them a major part of my life now because they all made me realize that there is nothing more important in life than family! They had so little and were willing to give us so much! It made me realize that we are so caught up in our material things and we aren’t happy, yet they have much less and their happiness is contagious. Why can’t we be as happy as them when we have so much? The reason is, they cherish their time with their families and nothing is more important than family.