This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Friday, July 13, 2012


A highlight of my trip this year (and last year and the year before) is the opportunity to visit with Beca students and their families. Mynor is my tour guide, sidekick, and translator. The houses are typically accessed through a maze of small lanes and alleys without names. The kids have learned to speak Spanish in school but the majority of the parents had limited access to education so translations are needed between Spanish and their native Tz'utujil. I'd be lost without Mynor in more ways than one!

Each situation and family is unique, of course, but in each home I've found a sense of hope and strength despite their dire circumstances; they're all very warm and welcoming and grateful. The kids I've visited other years seemed noticeably more confident this time around. I'll intersperse photos of our interactions and family groups with cultural elements like shared food, parents' artesan works, kids' art, religious shrines, pets, and interesting wiring.

Our 1st visit this week was to the home of Andrea - our very 1st Beca student. Her family is getting a new home thanks to the Cooperativa School's Kamoon project. A Beca sponsor donated the final $2000 needed and is heading to San Pedro in August to help with the start of construction.

Next stop was one of our older students, Evelin Elena. She is married and has a new baby; her family is very supportive and she plans to continue in school for the final year and a half of her teacher education program.

Mariano loves music and art and would like to teach one of them but can't decide which.

Candelaria is the oldest of 6 kids. The family lost their home in a landslide 2 years ago and has struggled since, with rent and 8 mouths to feed. Her dad is an artisan who makes jewelry using jade and other stones, macrame, and silver. With so many little ones this was an especially fun visit.

That's me, thanks to one of Candelaria's sisters.
Trying on a necklace and looking at school work.

Pedro Nehemias loves art, too.

His mother embroiders blouses.
Creative wiring and plastic sheeting spread over a bed.
Rosmery's sponsors visited her in April and she and her mother loved seeing phtoos from the visit.

Mynor heading to the next house.
Miguel is much more confident this year - no longer a little boy.

His great grandmother was very shy the 1st year and reserved last year. This year she was the life of the party (with Mynor).
Miguel's father made this beautiful bed frame and told us it was what convinced his wife to marry him. :-)
At Josefa's house I got to play with their rabbit and see her beautiful handiwork. Josefa's parents both left and she and 2 younger sisters are being raised by the oldest sister, still a teenager. Josefa is on the right in the 1st photo and the left in the 2nd.

Some of her handiwork from home ec class
We had a little trouble with setting the camera timer because the rabbit kept trying to escape.

Many of the families offer food and some give gifts to me or for me to take to the sponsors - frequently kids' artwork or the mother's weaving. At Maria Osorio's house I experienced a 1st - they offered me 2 ducks. Mynor took this photo of her mother washing them in the kitchen before they presented them to me. I had to decline but it was a very generous offer.

Maria is talented with embroidery (this was a school project) and crochet (she demonstrated for us last year).
Jose Nehemias showed me his beautiful artwork. He picked out 1 for me (seen below) and 2 for his sponsors. He also gave me an embroidered sash from home ec class to give to them.
He loved the headlamp that was in the package I brought down from his sponsors.
His mother made a drink from oats for us.

Maria Ujpan Tuch's family received the 1st Kamoon project house just over a year ago.
There are 6 kids in Maria's family, too.

Francisco and his family were very serious in the photos we received when he became a Beca student last fall. I expected them to seem serious in person but they were outgoing and talkative.

Josefina's family lives in extremely marginalized circumstances. I am so happy she's receiving help to complete her teaching degree.
I wondered why Mynor took this photo of the ceiling, although there's some creative wiring there. You'll see why in the detail below.

It's uplifting and exhausting at the same time to visit the families. This is fewer than half of our Beca families so expect more photos in a future post. Happy trails!

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