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  • Writer's picturekurtis.a.dickson

Updates from Guatemala!

Greetings and salutations! As this year is rapidly coming to a close, it seems as if the headlines have been a constant reminder of how rough 2020 has been for most. From COVID-19, to civil unrest, the US presidential election, and precarious weather systems, it seems as if this year is one that would be hard to forget. Likewise, we could never forget our family in Guatemala despite not being able to take our annual mission trip this year. As the days continue to pass in the age of COVID-19 quarantine for us here in the United States, we also acknowledge that our family in Alta Verapaz share quite a few of their own struggles. Recently members of our team were able to get in contact with Rudy, our friend and director of AVIS/Living to Serve in Guatemala, and thankfully he was able to update us in the state of affairs in Alta Verapaz as many of these same events unfold within their borders.

COVID-19 seems to be a somewhat lingering pandemic, sadly it has not spared our friends in Guatemala. Rudy relays that at first the cases were low with minimal casualties, but just as the numbers increased on a global scale, so have the cases in Guatemala and specifically in Alta Verapaz. While there have been casualties within the community none of our AVIS/Living to Serve members were included. Most notably, we did have one team member who did contract the virus. Fortunately, both her family as well as herself fully recovered without any notable sequelae or lingering symptoms. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Guatemala, as well as throughout the world, as we know this pandemic is still affecting the lives of so many. Likewise, we want to take a moment to commend the healthcare teams working tirelessly to care for their patients during this time of uncertainty across the globe.

On top of the pandemic, the people of Guatemala and Central America have more recently had to contend with Hurricane Eta. Rudy relays that our friends at AVIS/Living to Serve have been doing well amidst the storm, although the storm has brought its fair share of damages and torment to our communities in Alta Verapaz. With the high winds and heavy rains massive flooding and even devastating landslides have occurred in nearby villages. Rudy and the AVIS/Living to Serve team have set up temporary shelters for displaced families and are providing hot meals daily until they can return home. We are happy to report that the rain in the area has ceased and the flooding is slowly regressing. If you would like to make a donation specifically for disaster relief, you can donate to our Venmo or Paypal with a note in the description stating how you’d like the money to be spent. The one thing we know of our friends and patients in Alta Verapaz is that they are the most resilient people with more optimism during the darkest of times than we have on generally good days. We ask that you keep these communities in your thoughts as they work through the aftermath of this natural disaster.

Clinic Update:

As you may remember from our last update, we have now surpassed our halfway goal for construction funding and are continuing to fundraise in order to reach $150,000! Despite delays incurred from the pandemic, Rudy and the AVIS/Living to Serve staff are hard at work finalizing detailed blueprints, printing the first round of donor wall bricks, and obtaining all the necessary legal documents to secure approval from the Guatemalan Ministry of Health to ensure that the clinic is up and running once construction is (finally!) complete in the future. If you haven’t seen our first 100 bricks fresh off the press, check out the photos below! These bricks will become part of the infrastructure of our clinic and will be a reminder of all those who helped us reach our goal to bring sustainable healthcare to our patients in Guatemala. If you are interested in supporting this project, a minimum donation of $100 can be made and we will contact you to ask for your desired inscription. We are so grateful to share this journey with AVIS/Living to Serve and are appreciative of the expertise each team member brings along the way. In fact, Rudy just defended his dissertation during Hurricane Eta and passed his exams to receive his degree in Agro and Industrial Engineering! Congratulations to Rudy on accomplishing this incredible achievement! Rudy is a constant reminder to achieve your dreams no matter what may be standing in your way. You are an inspiration to us all!

As always, we thank you for taking the time to catch up with us here on Hopeful Highlights. We hope that you are doing well and maintaining yourself despite all the stressors this year has brought. We encourage everyone to practice self care, cherish those around you, take a moment to appreciate the truly special things the universe still has to offer us, and find a reason to smile every day. Between the pandemic, natural disasters, and the continued need for healthcare in Guatemala we have continued our efforts at fundraising to continue with construction of the clinic. If you are able to do and feel so inclined to please donate, share our page, or simply continue to read up on our updates here at Hopeful Highlights. Thank you, and I hope the fall season is kind to you.

-Kurtis D.

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