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Pelham Students Demonstrate the Spirit of Giving with Service Trip to Guatemala

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Pelham Students Demonstrate the Spirit of Giving with Service Trip to Guatemala

Senior Gabby Hood plays with kids in 
Guatemala.

Senior Gabby Hood plays with kids in Guatemala.

Photo courtesy of Martha Hood

Senior Gabby Hood plays with kids in Guatemala.

Photo courtesy of Martha Hood

Photo courtesy of Martha Hood

Senior Gabby Hood plays with kids in Guatemala.

By Julia Kaplansky, Senior, Associate Features Editor

Living under the privilege that America’s freedom provides is a gift that many don’t appreciate. Imagine living in a country where summers exceed scorching temperatures and, though you are thirsty, something as common as fresh water is unavailable. This is the harsh reality for many Central Americans who live under horrifying, impoverished conditions every day. As the 2017-18 school year came to an end, a group of Pelham Memorial High School girls went on a service trip to Antigua, Guatemala to see if they could help bring about change.

The girls prepared for their journey to Guatemala by gathering supplies. Several of the girls collected school materials for their trip through their Spanish classes over the course of May and June. These supplies included folders, crayons, paper, and notebooks, which would be given directly to the children of the orphanages and several other programs.

On June 20, the students, that included seniors Gabby Hood and Hailey Nelson, landed in Guatemala City, just an hour and a half from Antigua. There, the group became involved in a number of day-to-day tasks that included visiting the Luz de Maria Orphanage, building bunk beds for and playing with the orphaned children. The girls also participated in a program called Niños con Bendición, which works to take children off the unsafe streets of Guatemala, and protect them from harm and danger until they turn eighteen.

Hood was actually adopted from Guatemala as a young child and had previously visited the same area a few years before.

“Having previously been to Antigua, I thought it was a very cool experience to see my friends visiting a third world country, as it was their first time,” Hood said.

The girls had the chance to visit with Antiguan residents, where the size of a typical house was equivalent to the size of an average American living room. There, the girls helped build water filters to provide residents with safe drinking water for up to a year. They also built stoves, another item many Americans take for granted. The girls discovered that in Antigua, women, if needed, will carry their babies on their back while cooking over a wood and stick fire. The babies inhale the smoke, which is extremely harmful.

Reflecting on the experience, Hood said, “It sounds cliché, but it truly was life-changing and puts things into perspective. I realized we take so many things for granted that many are worrying about every day.”

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Pelham Students Demonstrate the Spirit of Giving with Service Trip to Guatemala