A caring group of people from the Conception Bay North area recently returned from a trip to help people in Guatemala, and some are already gearing up for their next visit in 2020.
Cheryl Smith, who was a team leader along with her husband Justin, made her sixth visit to the Central American nation — she said going there now almost feels like going home. They were joined this time by Donna Fowler and her daughter Kelly, Silas Badcock, his sister Goldie Butt and her husband Steven Butt. The group left from St. John’s Feb. 8 and returned home Feb. 19.
“The owner of Kelly’s Landing, Donna Fowler, and her daughter Kelly, they actually wanted to go down there because Donna sponsored a child there last year,” Cheryl, a real estate agent based in Bay Roberts, told The Compass. “Of course, she’d heard us speak of Guatemala and from that she wanted to sponsor a child, and when she did it, it was in her heart to go down there and meet the family.”
The group built a pair of 16-by-20-foot homes in Parramos, a large town in the southern portion of Guatemala with a population exceeding 15,000. They stayed in the nearby city of Antigua.
“Parramos is more of a developing area,” Cheryl said. “You have a lot of needy people. They live in very moderate homes.”
She noted the homes they build in the community are so small, a lot of Newfoundlanders would not find them to be fit for using as a shed. But according to Cheryl, those they meet in Parramos appreciate having a roof over their head, no matter the size of the home.
The homes for this trip were built in memory of deceased members of the Fowlers’ family. They also supported the local school, donating clothing and school supplies for the children. Food was also purchased locally to distribute. Cheryl estimates that of the 700 children attending the school, 100 are sponsored by people in the Conception Bay North area.
“Newfoundlanders are well-loved down there,” she said.
Cheryl said food and lodging can be problematic for a lot of locals in Parramos. In the case of the family she sponsors along with Justin, the father works in a field 12 to16 hours a day and receives approximately $100 U.S. each month for it.
In addition to the typical sorts of items they brought to Guatemala, the group came with a big donation for the local fire department in Parramos. Silas Badcock, a member of Bay Roberts Fire and Rescue, was there in person to present a bunker suit.
“They have material and suits down there that’s probably 40 years old,” Cheryl said.
They did a lot of fundraising back home in preparation for the trip and Cheryl already has two visits booked for 2020, with a lot of newcomers expected to be getting involved. A dinner, show and auction fundriaser is booked at the Bay Roberts Lions Club for March 9. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by contacting Cheryl at 683-3892.