Success is in the eye of the beholder.
One of the most enriching things about this last year of working with our new Guatemala community has been seeing how adaptable children are. Our five children have grown in ways we couldn't have imagined.
This month we have seen many new names subscribe to the mailing list. We want to take a moment to thank all of you for your interest and want to tell you about our refreshed vision for this experiment. Here are some things we'd like to highlight of what we see as our significant successes thus far.
We have now witnessed over 200 volunteers come and go over the last 15 months of our experience here. It has been an incredible process to see how the word has spread about our projects with minimal effort focused on PR. Word of mouth from the volunteers that have participated has been the main driver of our exponential productivity, and we could not be more grateful for that!
"Maria and Son" Photography by Celia, a current volunteer that sailed from France!
To save everyone some precious time while catching you up to speed, I will indulge in a chronological point form list of big moments for the experiment.
Before leaving Canada:
Shutting off our household main water valve for ten days and raising money for Charitywater.org (Check out our very first blog post to read about this!)
Going back to business as usual after raising enough money to build a well for a community of 200+ people that previously did not have access to clean water.
Feeling empty (catalyst)
Taking action on creating a blog/project website that would focus on Giving as a way of life for one calendar year.
The birth of thegivingexperiment.com
Selling all our belongings and getting rid of as much personal debt and clutter as possible.
Moving out of our home, living in a camper with five kids/or being hosted by wonderful families.
One-way tickets for our family from Vancouver to Guatemala City were purchased. Gifted by a beautiful person that believed in what we were setting out to do.
Arriving and finding a place that felt right
Assessing where we could be helpful as volunteers and giving our time without imposing on local culture before integrating.
Picking up trash along Lake Atitlan's shoreline with our kids.
Founding a children's program for local kids to learn about responsible stewardship of creation, sanitation, and nutrition.
Developing the program with local input and cultural sensitivity.
A podcast interview that gave us worldwide exposure and increased our volunteers.
Establishing a guesthouse and community center to host the growing number of volunteers.
Hosting long-term volunteers and integrating their individual passions and skill sets into the experiment
The beginning of weekly community dinners and cultural exchanges.
The creation of a music academy for children of the community center neighborhood.
The planting of a community food forest.
"The beginning of the garden"
Photography by Oceane, another volunteer from France that ALSO sailed to Guatemala from France with her partner Clemont.
The continued growth of our children's program and structure: families in need receiving produce bags in exchange for help with leadership roles in the club.
Beginning to harvest from the food forest to aid in feeding the children and their families.
Beginning specialized training for the parents and volunteers of the kids club, such as CPR workshops and (coming soon) mycology and botany courses.
-A big thank you to Ana and Juan Camilo from Colombia for teaching this course and JJ from Guatemala for facilitating it!
It would be impossible for me to fully describe how rich any one of these single experiences has been. Volunteers have brought their skillsets, and we have been blessed with the space to make it happen. The giving part of the experiment is happening left, right, and center within our community. We want to express our pride in having ALL of you as friends and participants.
So that's the past; let's talk about the future.
A few goals we have that we are fundraising for and currently organizing for are:
The purchasing of a plastic shredder to start processing the hundreds of pounds of plastic collected with the children. The produced raw material will first be used to fill bean bag chairs with traditional covers woven by local women.
Establishing a pressed token (made out of recycled plastic!) To reward the collection of plastic outside of kids club time. We will be looking for local and international sponsors to donate incentives and rewards (food and clothing) for which the tokens could be exchanged.
Finding long-term sponsors for our workshops would enable local businessmen and women to grow in knowledge and tools. All this with the ultimate goal of improving the local standard of living to the point where health and dignity are given the room needed to grow.
And last but not least, continuing to hold space for the more significant conversations that nourish our souls and foster spiritual and personal growth.
Please feel free to comment below!
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