In my time as a parishioner at Good Shepherd Parish, I’ve heard so much about Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH). From attending fiesta dinners and trivia nights, to hosting visiting pequenos from Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico, I thought that I’d experienced most of what NPH had to offer.
As we woke up this morning to a wonderful welcome breakfast and were greeted by directors and university students of NPH Guatemala, I quickly understood that this community is about more than what I’ve seen back in Massachusetts. After breakfast, our new friend Alexis gave us a tour of the facilities. A university student, Alexis was able to provide a unique perspective regarding his experience at NPH, and he knew the campus like the back of his hand. We saw the daycare, where single mothers in the area drop off their children under the age of five for no charge while they work to make a living to provide for their families. We continued our tour and visited the Montessori school for 1st to 3rd grade students, and then saw the middle school area where 4th-8th graders learn the classic school subjects like Math, Science, History, Spanish, and English. Throughout the entire tour I was consistently impressed by the quality of the facilities and the kindness and welcoming nature of everyone we met.
Though my Spanish no es muy bueno, I was still able to develop meaningful connections even in the short time we saw children on the tour.
After the conclusion of the tour, we split ourselves up to help out in the ways that NPH Guatemala currently needs. For us, that meant preparing the garden and continuing the long-term project of painting their middle school building. Each classroom is being repainted one by one, so I was able to start painting a new English classroom with vibrant green and yellow paints. We listened to music, painted the walls, and chatted with the children who stopped by with curiosity. Soon, it was lunch time.
Lunch was by far my favorite part of the day, and not because of the food (though it was delicious) but because it was the first time we were able to spend an extended period of time mingling with the children.
We met Daniella, a crazy ten-year-old girl, and Arturo, a younger boy who loved hugs. These connections, though still small after the first day, have already impacted me immensely.
These children had to go through so much to get here, but now they’ve found a community – a family – that loves them as much as they love each other. And it’s clear even after being here in NPH Guatemala for a few days that these children really are loved and are enjoying life, even if they had an unfavorable family situation beforehand.
We continued these relationships throughout the day, spending time with the boys playing soccer and making bracelets on the sidelines. Even if there is a language barrier, we are able to communicate without words and I’m already having a blast. I’m looking forward to the rest of our week, and can’t wait to see what else I learn about the culture and the wonderful family here at NPH Guatemala.