Saturday, July 11, 2015

"It is in the giving that we receive." - St. Francis of Assisi

Over the past few months, my sister Heidi and I have fundraised for a project called Nuevo Amanecer outside Antigua, Guatemala in a town called San Andreas Itzapa. Nuevo Amanecer was founded in 1989 by Manuel de la Cruz and his family. Manuel's first daughter was born with a serious heart condition that needed immediate surgery, but the family was not able to pay for the surgery. They began to seek help from the community, and the community contacted one of the best heart surgeons in Guatemala, who performed the surgery for free. The Cruz family felt the need to give back to the community after all they did for the family, so they started Nuevo Amanacer. The family noticed there were a lot of issues in the community with poverty and substance abuse, and they felt that by providing more educational opportunities and support for the youth of the community, they could combat such problems.  24 children are served through Nuevo Amanecer to include a small lunch, educational support, cultural education, and English classes.
One of the children working on an art project
Heidi and the kids traveled to Guatemala in June to visit me and also learn more about Guatemala. We thought raising money and interacting with an after school project would be a great part of their visit.

Here we are about to leave Maximo Nivel (my former workplace) with our van loaded full of goodies
Our amazing friends and family donated $1317 to help this wonderful project!  With the money, we were able to buy a ton of school supplies (paper, pencils, pens, markers, scissors,etc) for the kids to use.  The tables and chairs were mostly funded by Maximo Nivel, but we helped buy a few extra tables/chairs as well.  We also found some fun things for the kids (soccer balls, jump ropes, and hula hoops).  Hand soap and toilet paper were also purchased as part of their request for supplies.  Additionally, we were able to donate money to them directly to fix a wall that has been leaking during the rainy season.  The family who runs the after school project were simply overwhelmed by the support from all of you.  They asked that we share their heartfelt thanks with you and their wishes that God blesses each of you.
All of us with all the donations and the Cruz family, who runs the after school project
The Cruz family has opened their home to the children of the community and Nuevo Amanacer is operated out of their home.
Cooking area
The courtyard and kitchen area
Beautiful view from the roof
Part of the upstairs classroom space
Upstairs classroom space

There was even ice cream!

After a small lunch and tour of the two Nuevo Amanacer facilities, the children performed a few dances for us.

At the end - we all danced!

And after we all danced, we said goodbye..

Spending an afternoon with the Cruz family and children of Nuevo Amanecer was truly a wonderful experience! The afternoon was full of joy, happiness, and sharing. The gratitude and joy they felt about the support they received was truly beautiful. The family literally was overcome with emotion and tears upon seeing all the donations and the cash donation for the construction project. This is a wonderful place and all of you who helped them out can know your donations are going a long way to make San Andreas Itzapa a better place through educating the children.

Additionally, we made a financial donation to NiƱos con Bendicion another after school project. This project focuses on providing healthy food to the children, teaching them English, helping with homework, and teaching them native dances and songs. They are trying to preserve some of the Mayan culture that is all too quickly fading from Guatemala by teaching the songs and dances to the children.

To get there - we took a chicken bus (retired US school bus but with a new paint job)
The children dancing and playing marimba
Other children watching through the quilt (made by mothers of the children)
Beautiful smiles
And afterwards - snack time
In addition to these wonderful projects, we were able to donate some money to this young boy who was in need of a wheelchair.  Prior to our donation, his mom was carrying him to and from school (a long distance).  See how happy he is to have his new wheels!
Blowing kisses to say thank you!

Huge thanks to all of you who helped impact the lives of so many in Guatemala through your donations! If anyone is interested in continuing support for Nuevo Amancer or Ninos con Bendicion, please email me at