The first 3 days of this trip to Guatemala was spent in Panajachel — a bustllng, touristy type of town on the shores of Lake Atitlan. We have been working with another NGO– AUDA Guatemala – to help a small school near Pana in the village of San Antonio Palopo. We visited this school with a local AUDA volunteer, Rosaria, to learn more of their needs. There are approximately 425 children in this school in the very poor area of San Antonio. The director, Odilio, is very committed to helping these children. He explained to us that many families simply cannot afford their children to attend school for more than a few years. He also told us of one very bright boy that was not going to return for the 6th grade — his parents couldn´t afford it— so he, the director, paid for this boy to return for the 6th grade. The boy did very well and graduated– if only all children had the opportunity!
Many children walk the streets of Panajachel selling trinkets to help support their families and many look to be as young as 7-8 years old. If the children attend school they will start selling as soon as school is over for the day and if they do not attend school they do it all day. It often gets frustrating that while walking around town or sitting in an open air cafe you are continually bothered by children wanting you to buy something. But I have realized it is a small touch of God´s work and love to take time to talk to these children and maybe spend a dollar or two on their trinkets. During one afternoon coffee break I was sitting in an outdoor area when I was approached by a boy (about 9 years old) selling tiny coin purses and bracelets. I started talking to him and asked if he attended school and where he lived and he just brightened up— I think at the thought of some one caring enough to take time with him. I purchased a couple of dollars worth from him and then he asked if I had a Quetzal (about 13 cents) so he could buy something to eat. I gave him several coins and told him not to buy candy or pop and he said he was going to buy a tortilla and a sausage. I may have brightened his day but he did more for me. ……………………. “and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13