Posts Tagged ‘Common Hope in Guatemala’

Back from Guatemala

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

On the plane ride home from Guatemala, Mateo and I sat next to an American business school professor who has consulted on growing businesses in Guatemala for the past 30 years. It didn’t take long for “Professor M” to figure out that I was what he called a “do-gooder”—that is, someone who believes that my small efforts to help a country I love might actually yield a result. Then when Professor M learned I lived in San Francisco! Well, that sealed the deal. M could categorize me as a person with my head in the clouds, you know the type.

Nevertheless, over 30 years, Professor M has, like me, developed a great love for Guatemala. His affection was clear as he spoke about the good work by many in the Guatemalan business community—their efforts to create jobs and income streams, their support of young people in the middle class to become educated and move up the career ladder. At the same time, the professor voiced deep frustration. According to him, the political system is so corrupt that it discourages talented, honest people from getting involved. Violence runs rampant. Drug traffickers have destroyed communities. “They’re recruiting kids as young as your boy,” M said, pointing to six-year-old Mateo. We both shook our heads.

By the time we touched down in Houston, the professor and I realized we held opinions more alike than different. Guatemala had captivated each of us. In our own ways, we do what we can.

That’s why I’ve posted the photo above, taken during my most recent trip. The picture shows a woman named “Dona G,” standing in front of a house built by Common Hope, an organization headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, and based in Antigua, Guatemala. Contributions to Common Hope funded the house. Dona G earned it by putting in the required hours of sweat equity. Finally, Dona G and her family are living between walls that won’t collapse. During the torrential downpours of the rainy season, her new cement floor won’t turn to mud.

No one person can change the world. But in ways large and small, we can try to make our particular corner of it better.


In Guatemala

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

For anyone who is wondering where I´ve been lately, I´m in Guatemala with Mateo and my sister, Patrice. We´ve been here the past week, after our visit to San Diego.

At the moment, I have limited computer access, which is why I´ve been posting less than usual. But we´re having a great time!

Also, traveling with a very active six year old boy (I know that construction requires hyphens, but I can´t find them on the keyboard) leaves little time for writing, or doing much else except having fun.

But this week we visited Common Hope, an outstanding organization we support that I will write about when I return home, and met with my good friend, Leceta Chisholm Guibault, founder of Service Trips with Leceta (which I will also write about), and her gorgeous daughter, Kahleah.

I´m on one of the two computers in our hotel, in the nook next to the breakfast room where a lovely group of travelers is speaking German.

¡Hasta pronto!



Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

An under-reported outcome of adopting from another country is the loyalty many families feel for the birth-country of their children, and the actions that result. I’m not talking about connections with birth and foster families, visits to former orphanages, and annual heritage trips, although each of those things is wonderful and to be recommended.

I’m talking about the financial contributions adoptive parents make to organizations that support families, children, and education. In Guatemala alone, there are dozens if not hundreds of such organizations that receive thousands of dollars in donations from families with children born in Guatemala. Mayan Families, Common Hope, Behrhorst, Orphan Resources International, Roots and Wings International, Guatemala Aid Fund, and Mission Guatemala are but a few of the many groups which do good work and receive funds from folks in the United States, including a large number of adoptive families. Pictured above are Dwight Poage, co-founder of Mayan Families, and a few members of his staff.

This dedication to birth country is by no means limited to families with children from Guatemala. Many Americans with children born around the world help when and where they can. Today, I ran across an article about a fundraiser in Knoxville, Tennessee for two organizations that raise money for orphans in Africa and elsewhere, Show Hope and Blood: Water Mission. In this online post, KnoxNews reports on international help efforts:

Blood:Water Mission, founded by the Christian band Jars of Clay, seeks to empower communities in Africa to work together against the two primary causes of children being orphaned: devastation caused by HIV and AIDS and sickness and death caused by contaminated water.

In January, board members of Kalu Grace Foundation and other Knoxvillians traveled to northern Kenya to witness the products that Blood:Water Mission has been able to implement with last year’s Hope in the Dark donations.

A water tank has been installed in the desert region of Marsabit, Kenya, giving 66 percent of the population who were without clean water access. Knoxvillians’ donations also helped fund the Tumaini (“hope”) Clinic in Marsabit so that people in the district infected with HIV and AIDS no longer have to travel 10 or more hours to the nearest treatment facility. Since the opening of the clinic, the community has access to integrated prevention and support programs as well.


Other donations raised at Hope in the Dark will again fund grants through Show Hope. Show Hope, founded by Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, aims to mobilize individuals and communities to care for orphans by providing grants to families adopting children from among 40 countries. Last year’s donations provided Show Hope grants to adoptive families throughout Knoxville and the U.S. who are now in the process of bringing home children from African countries.

No one person can change the world. But many adoptive families do what they can to help one small part of it.



Adoption Today: “Inside Guatemalan Orphanages” by Leceta Chisholm Guibault

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

When I was asked to get a back-cover endorsement for Mamalita from someone prominent in the adoption field, I didn’t think twice before approaching Leceta Chisholm Guibault. Leceta is a person admired and respected by me and many others in the Guatemalan adoption community and beyond: the adoptive mother to two teens born in Central America, a former board member of the Adoption Council of Canada, an Adoption Activist award- winner, and a staff member of the TIES program (Adoptive Families Homeland Journeys).  During the years I’ve been involved in adoption myself, I have read and benefited from Leceta’s magazine articles and postings in which she shares her experiences and insights.

Leceta is currently a Canadian regional partner for Orphan Resources International, an American nonprofit organization that supports some 55 orphanages in Guatemala. During the past two years, she has led more than 150 Canadian volunteers on six separate service trips. In  an article titled “A View from the Trenches: Inside Guatemalan Orphanages,” in the December issue of Adoption Today, Leceta shares her impressions of what she has seen and felt. Or as she says in the article’s introduction, “what keeps me awake at night and why I continue to provide aid to children in Guatemala.” As usual, she tells her story with compassion, honesty, and bravery.  

Adoption Today is published online only. The $12 subscription fee is money well-spent for anyone interested in the current state of international and transracial adoption. Leceta writes:

Most homes share the same issues– overcrowding. Many are filled with abandoned infants, as well as children in care due to severe abuse and neglect. Infants were arriving if not daily, weekly. At Fundaninos orphanage, the infants we met in 2009 are now toddlers. Another home we volunteer for is a baby home with 50-60 children, the majority being infants and young toddlers. Every time I visit, bassinets are full with newborn to 5-month-olds…

In May, I walked into one of the three overcrowded nurseries and fell to my knees… I sobbed. There were babies everywhere being fed by propped bottles. Don’t get me wrong — it was a beautiful, clean and loving home. The home receives a lot of clothing donations… The problem is, it’s overcrowded. There are not enough caregivers — during one visit there were 37 infants with two nannies. It was an assembly line of diaper changes and bottle propping… The children were craving attention and happy just to be held. I brought 23 volunteers and even holding two children each there were little ones waiting for their turn. These children need parents… (more…)