I have always liked to help people, and thank God I have had the opportunity to do it. Through my life I have helped many people from different places, ages and situations but I know I still can do more.
I would like to start by talking about some of the places that I have volunteered with. First is Hospital Hermano Pedro de Betancourt in Antigua Guatemala. Here you will find children, old people and just about anybody that needs help. The hospital is administrated by priests from the Hermano Pedro congregation. I volunteered here with my mom, spending some time with the children and helping in the kitchen while also donating clothes and toys.
Another time we helped with Quijivix family (Close friends of ours) in Mother Teresa of Betancourt, a homeless shelter in Guatemala City. We helped the nuns feed lunch to the homeless and sick people that lived there.
Over time I donated and volunteered in other places such as retirement homes, places for children with HIV, or medical outreach programs. I don’t believe that you need to give things away, you can do so many things just spending some time with people. As Mother Teresa said “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
One time that gave me a different view on volunteering and helping people was when I volunteered with Doctor Levy for a couple of days during holy week in 2003 and 2004 after my mom had volunteered with her. Doctor Levy worked with a group of doctors, dentists and people from the U.S. that wanted to help people in need in some of the towns around Escuintla, Guatemala (Helping Hands Medical Mission) . This time they setup their clinics next to the church and maybe it didn’t have the best resources available but it is incredible everything you can do when you just want to help people. The doctors dentists, and nurses volunteered, which brought in people to assist because the need was there. Next some of the restaurants cooked food for the doctors, dentists, nurses and volunteers all because a need was there. Everyone helped in their own way. You just need a place, people and a desire to help. Of course it always helps to have a big smile even when you are tired.
I believe that when you have a great experience such as this you need to share it with your family and friends. So, that is why in 2004 Doris Quijivix and my sister also volunteered and in 2007 my brother volunteered.
It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters (Mother Teresa). Mother Teresa’s experiences have helped me to appreciate my life more and know of what I am capable of doing for somebody else. That instead of me helping them, they are giving me a life lesson.
Later, I got interested in helping children with heart diseases with Unicar after my aunt Elena de Gonzalez volunteered. On Christmas Eve of 2006 we went there to give some time and food to the parents at Unicar (The children are on a special diet) as well as some of the nurses and doctors who work at hospital Roosevelt, which is a Government hospital that does not have very much money. Later in 2007 my aunt Maria Lourdes de Suarez also got an award for her help with the children at Unicar.
Finally in 2007 before moving to the U.S. I decided to donate all the things that I collected through my life because I understood that I was not going to use them anymore, and instead some of these children would enjoy them. This is now the principal idea of what my husband and I are doing together now.
Now we are collecting used toys, clothes, diapers or crutches and sending them back to Guatemala. In 2008 we made our first donation with the help of the Carl family. The Carl family donated toys and clothing which we hand-carried back to Guatemala and gave to the children at the Hospital Roosevelt. We spent some time with the children and with the parents, listening to some sad stories but there were also a lot of bright smiles brought out by such a small gift. We only wish we could do more. After our trip we brought back a thank you letter from the hospital and pictures of the children with the donated clothes and toys.
Now we are slowly looking for more donations. We would like to start sending boxes full of toys, clothing and medical supplies (Crutches, canes, etc) back to Guatemala. We do not have an organization setup and because of this we are only asking for the help of our friends. If you do not know us and you still want to help we can direct you to some places where you can find your own way to volunteer or donate. We don’t have to be large to help, we only need to help.
– Gabriela Hydle