Friday, February 26, 2010

My New Cousin Naomi

So it turns out that I have a cousin in Guatemala and she is fascinating. My cousin Naomi has been working over the last 40 years to save children all over the world. I never knew that she existed but my parents, who hadn't seen her in years, got a hold of her and we all went out to lunch today. Currently, she has a bus which she takes trips with doctor volunteers to remote villages to help sick children. Over lunch, she told us stories, not only about the amazing things that she is doing here in Guatemala but stories that go back as far as the late 60's. She rescued children from Vietnam and Cambodia during the Vietnam war. She has saved over 100,000 children. I am so proud to be related to this amazing woman and we left, completely inspired. She is not working within a huge organization, this is something that she organizes by herself out of sheer determination.

Rob and I walked away from the restaurant inspired. We actually each have skills that would help her. I was feeling emotional and had this feeling that I would not be able to stop thinking about her. We first discussed maybe coming back to Guatemala to volunteer in a few months. Within minutes, we knew that we met her at this time for a reason. We have been planning to move on to El Salvador for a few weeks until we meet our friends in Honduras. In a split second we both agreed that we should stick around in Guatemala for a little while longer to help Naomi. One of the benefits of this kind of trip the being able to change plans at a moments notice and this feels like the right thing.

Tomorrow we will head to Guatemala City to figure out what we can do to help her cause. Rob's mechanical and electrical skills will be very helpful with the bus. Naomi mentioned that she doesn't have a website so I am going to devote my time to getting something online for her. I'm hoping that I can also lend a hand with my organizational skills and anything else that I can do to help. Sunday we will join her for the opening of a school that she built for a group of children whose closest school was too far and dangerous for them to attend.

We will be staying with a family that she is close with. This will be our first homestay and I am a little nervous about it. Until now, we have constantly been surrounded by English speaking travelers. In the touristy spots, even the restaurants employ travelers. This will be a real Spanish immersion and I am hopeful that our Spanish will greatly improve.

At this point, I have no idea what to expect and I really hope that we are able to help out and make at least a little difference. At the very least, it will be a chance to work on our Spanish and to get to know a very interesting cousin.


Jamie said...

That is so awesome!! Maybe this is that inspiration you were hoping for! You'll have to tell me all about it when I get there. I would love to do some nutrition intervention in a developing country after school, so I can't wait to hear how this experience affects you.

Aaron said...

I was wondering how you'd top climbing one of the world's most active volcanoes. Good job for both of you - making a difference in the world!