Sa-Hali Secondary students prepare for Guatemala missions trip

By Tanya Cronin
March 6, 2018 - 4:58pm

KAMLOOPS— Over spring break, most teenagers look forward to sleeping in and hanging out with their friends. But for sixteen Sa-Hali Secondary students, the holiday will be all about giving back to others. The group of students is gearing up to embark on a volunteer trip to Guatemala, it's the fifth group from SaHali to team up with Developing World Connections. This year, the team will not only be building houses for families, but they will also install fifteen Eco-Stoves, to improve the health and well-being of the people living there. 

Hygiene products, school supplies, toys and soccer equipment, filling handmade backpacks. All destined for the people of a small village in Central America.  

"They're very poor because they're moving from place to place, quite often picking coffee in the coffee plantations and tobacco, most of the people living in the community are living in structures made out of metal," says Joanne Simpson, Counsellor at Sa-Hali  Secondary.

While most teens will get to sleep in over spring break, these sixteen grade 12 Sa-Hali Secondary students, will immerse themselves in the culture of a developing country. Travelling to San Miguel Duenas, in Guatemala to make a difference, and brighten thousands of lives.   

"I think I feel like I'm prepared but I definitely know when I get there it's going to be overwhelming and the difference between our country and theirs, like things we take for granted like clean drinking water and readily available food," says Dulcie Jakubec, Grade 12 student.

"Get to see their daily life compared to mine, see how well they can handle not having as much resources as me," says Sara King, Grade 12 student.

While past years focused solely on building houses, working with children, and spreading literacy, this mission trip will be about much more. For the first time, the team will be installing Eco-Stoves, as part of the Developing World Connections 'Light Up Guatemala' initiative.

"Up to 50% of families still cook on open fires in their homes, so the home fills with smoke, fills with soot, the health problems, you don't even know how bad it is, it's crazy," says Kelcey Shinkewski, Developing World Connections.

A vented stove can prevent a lifetime of health problems, but in Guatemala not everyone can afford one. The Rotary cCub of Kamloops has funded 10 Eco-Stoves for this trip, and five others were privately donated.

"Having grown up in Africa and know exactly what it's like for families to live around a wood stove in their huts, a lot of them have problems around lack of fresh air, and these stoves actually exit all the smoke and gasses from the stove," says Chris Rose, International Service, Rotary Club of Kamloops.

A village of tiny tin homes amid nut and coffee bean fileds, San Migeul Duenas is one of the poorest places in Latin America, with nearly 9,000 people living in destitute conditions. In one short week, these teens eyes and hearts will be opened, as they embark on an experience to a new world.

"As they move forward, they will have a better sense of how resiliant human beings are and what it means to be generous with your time and money, and what it means to be grateful for what you have for simple things like fresh water," says Simpson.

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