Not everybody knows exactly what we are doing here. I want to take a few minutes to explain our weekly schedule and tell a bit of our story the same way we do to those we meet here at our community center in San Pedro.
We left Canada with under $2,000CAD to our name. This detail is a crucial part of the story as it highlights the leap of faith we took when leaving Canada. We gave ourselves no option other than to press forward until we established a new life here in Guatemala. The more I wrote about our experiences and thoughts, the more readers we gained as time went on. One by one, we began to build support and monthly contributors. We built a community focused on giving and making a difference.
The saying about finding a job you love so that you never have to work another day in your life has never rung more true. We are running off our feet working uncountable hours on the projects, the website, and this blog but are so far loving *almost* every minute of it.
Establishing "Giving" as a job.
Having grown up in Peru, I arrived in Guatemala very aware of the difference just 20$ can make in the life of someone here. We set out to raise Canadian funds from our community of friends and family to see how much of an impact we could have. It's hard to explain to anyone that has not witnessed this level of financial poverty. Twenty dollars is two full days' wage here for a field worker, taxi driver, shopkeeper, tailor, etc. Finding sustainable ways to help increase someone's income by 10$/day is a potentially life-changing venture for them and their family. We have positioned ourselves as fundraisers to give families a hand up when needed. We enjoy seeing lasting results.
Niños para un Mejor San Juan continues to develop, and new ideas to benefit the children's future continue to be implemented. We have worked hard this month with the help of many volunteers in establishing a food forest. We have planted mangos trees, avocado trees, fig trees, orange and lemon trees, and a blackberry patch. We have prepared new garden beds with the vision of teaching the children from the club that "You don't have to be wealthy to be healthy!" The reality is food does not need to be bought. It can be grown, and in these conditions, for free. We will teach how to sprout seeds and grow the plants in the recycled bottles we collect from the beach. We are so excited about this initiative.
For more information on the kids club and other activities we do click here thegivingexperiment.com/gallery
Faye and Diego work the pasta maker to press fresh homemade lasagna noodles for a community supper this week.
Another regular part of our weekly schedule is organizing two free community dinners. On Wednesday and Friday, we host an open house at our community center, "Los Colores," in the neighboring town of San Pedro. We feed all and whoever arrives. We have hired a local musician to host "open art" during the Friday meal. With the help of many involved, we have purchased a Peruvian Cajón drum, shaker eggs, and harmonica. The tiny instruments are grabbed up by the neighborhood kids and adults alike, and we land up having the most fantastic jam sessions, usually with our 6-year-old Faye leading the way on the dancing.
In the community center, a kitchen window to the sitting area provides a great way to visit while preparing food and washing dishes on the community dinner nights.
Another new part of the giving experiment is regularly assisting a local single mom with a basket of fresh veggies, fruit, and pantry goods. Every Thursday, we have fun going to the market and stocking up a basket full of healthy foods. Maria brings her children and nieces to the kids club every week. We have become aware of the severity of her situation through mutual friends and have offered to assist her. As we know in Canada, no government supports or food banks exist here. We are delighted to see her each week as she brings much joy to our lives. When she comes, she often stays with her kids and uses the art supplies from the kids club to create and relax. We are thankful to have this space to offer. The vision we have with the food forest is to eventually maintain it as a community orchard for families like Maria's.
Music and art classes for local kids
The musician Fellippe that leads the open art time during our Friday dinners has been teaching music for over 20 years. It is awesome for us also to have the opportunity through the giving experiment to offer some of the local children private music lessons during the week. It's a double whammy, artistic development for the kids and employment/financial support for an insanely talented local musician. It is just all so fantastic and rewarding to be a part of. We are so, so, so thankful!
At its core, The Giving Experiment has blossomed into a community project with a prosperous future for children and creation as its main focal point.
A personal call out for help.
As many of you can imagine, one of the difficulties of stepping out on a limb the way we have has been the financial uncertainty we have faced as a family in carving out this unique lifestyle. While we find it easy to ask for financial support for the aid of others, we have a hard time soliciting support for our personal needs. I soon have a need to travel back to Canada to cover some loose ends. We are getting rid of a small storage unit and contents along with some other obligations. We humbly ask those in our support base and community to help us take care of these expenses and some dental work here needed for our children. We thank every one of you in advance for the support and are so grateful that YOU have played a part in facilitating this year of us giving to others as a job. We realize that we could not be doing this without each of you.