Happy New Year! 2020-Done!
First and foremost, we at Hands of Esperanza and AVIS/Living to Serve would like to wish you all a happy new year. We hope that the holiday season was kind to you and that this upcoming year is kinder than the last. As always, we appreciate the time and devotion you have provided to our organizations over the past year. Without each of you, the gratitude and smiles we receive from the people of Guatemala could not be made possible!
I think we can all agree that 2020 did not turn out as initially expected. However, we are still pursuing our goals and the people of Guatemala are as persevering as ever. Despite the restrictions that the global pandemic has brought about, this past year we were still able to raise over $25,000! These funds have already been allocated towards the construction of the clinic that will serve the people of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! We are so appreciative of your continued support, your tenacity throughout the stress of the past year, and your vested interest in our mission work as we pursue this monumental goal. Looking forward, we are actively seeking new endeavors and opportunities to bring our dream to fruition. This includes creating new fundraising events, completing grant applications, and forming partnerships with other organizations. While COVID-19 has brought many changes that have made these endeavors a bit more challenging, we are steady in our resolve and efforts. Staying true to our roots, we are tentatively planning a medical mission trip with a group of PA students in August 2021 with hopes that it will be safe for the people of Guatemala, the students, and our medical provider team to return to this beautiful country. Also, we are excited to be exploring potential opportunities with other PA and medical education programs to emulate our current mission trips throughout the year in order to bring more frequent care to our patients prior to completion of the clinic project. This would be a tremendous resource as we act as the only source of primary care for many of the patients we treat! We are always looking for volunteers and encourage anyone interested in joining a trip (pending the progression of the current COVID-19 pandemic, of course) to reach out via our email address or contact section on our website.
In regard to how 2020 has affected the people of Guatemala, we recently received a letter from Rudy about the current state of affairs. While this past year has proven to be difficult for us in the United States, it was even more so for the people of Guatemala. After dealing with drought, famine, and a viral pandemic for months, mother nature wreaked havoc on our communities. In November of 2020 Hurricane Eta struck Guatemala causing massive flooding, landslides, and many casualties. Citizens in Alta Verapaz suffered greatly. Soon thereafter Hurricane Iota struck, adding to the devastation brought by Hurricane Eta. In December, AVIS/Living to Serve Director, Rudy Gonzalez, said, “In the community of Campur more than 70% of people lost their homes and most of the houses are still under water. There are many communities just like this. We hear that several communities can still only be reached by water, and some have not been reached yet.” With this series of unfortunate events, there were thousands of families living in shelter. However, a collaborative effort from the surviving communities and AVIS/Living to Serve was put forth to create shelter for others where none existed. They were able to keep them supplied with basic necessities such as food, blankets, and toiletries. Furthermore, the team at AVIS/Living to Serve, staying true to their name, was able to accomplish the following:
Prepare, cook, and deliver approximately 250 servings of food to shelters.
Set up a kitchen so that individuals could cook for themselves during this dire situation, regaining some sense of normalcy.
Provide mattresses, blankets, dishes, and clothing to many families.
We are very proud of our brothers and sisters at AVIS/Living to Serve for the way in which they were able to care for their fellow neighbors during the most desperate of times this past year in Guatemala. They provided aid and showed unwavering resilience during some of the darkest times we have seen in our lifetime while undoubtedly dealing with tribulations of their own. As we put this past year behind us and look forward to the future, we set our sites on meeting our remaining fund allocation goals and working towards the completion of the clinic. As we look to the new year for new opportunities to provide hope to others, we do hope that you will be there in some capacity whether that be via your continued financial support, spreading the word of our mission and goals, or simply as an avid reader of our blog sharing an interest in our journey. Wherever you may find yourself in 2021, I will be here to highlight the progression of our journey together. Thank you all so much! And remember, spring is coming!
Volunteers with Avis/Living to Serve delivery meals to the shelters.
Mattresses, blankets, and other supplies donated to survivors.
Survivors of the landslides.