Care-free strolling down the dusty path of San Lorenzo el Cubo is suddenly disturbed by the honk honk honk of a hungry bus ready to consume idle passengers; manic sprinting in the direction of the hooting horn not only stimulates an instant sweat and erratic heart palpitations, but also triggers the shouts, screams and whistles of the San Lorenzo community, who really, really want the bus to stop for me. But that is not how the system works. Yes, the shouting and screaming most certainly inform the driver that he has a passenger en route, but this is not a reason to stop the bus, this is just an opportunity to chug lightly instead of bouncing wildly. Before I knew it I was racing towards the back of a moving bus, the back door swinging freely in its wake, a nice friendly Guatemalan face waving me forward, egging me into the bus. There appears to be a blank in my memory and somehow between sprinting behind a moving vehicle, diving/flying through the back door, rolling down the corridor, and planting my bum in the first free seat available, everything was somehow accepted as completely normal and I was a regular bus passenger. Welcome to Guatemala.
But it is not all bus-chasing and avocado-eating, there is also a lot of salsa-dancing and market-haggling. In between all these newly acquired hobbies of mine, I manage to balance a full-time “job”. I say “job” in the loosest sense of the word, as evidence suggests that I am having too much fun for it to surely qualify as a real job. Who could imagine that day-to-day activities involve mornings surrounded by excited and enthusiastic children eager to learn; or roof-terrace meetings under the watchful eye of some Lord of the Rings type volcano thing; or researching fascinating stories of inspiring children fundraising to help other children; or learning more about the amazing Guatemalan culture that I am living in; or having parties to “fun-raise” for our philanthropic projects; I could not possibly list all the exciting things that I have encountered, as that would bore you poor readers. I feel like it is a sort of “got to be there” thing. A P.J. (private joke), but, there is no joke. This is all serious stuff, serious matters handled by serious people, sort of.
Working in the Fundraising and Development Department (FDD) and handling all the external communications introduces me to so many exciting projects, prospects and people. Marissa Alterio, an 8 year old girl from California, has begun her own project to help fundraise for schools in her grandmother´s homeland, Guatemala. And why? Because “A lot of people don’t have stuff like I do, so why shouldn’t I do this for them?” *
99%RIDE, an organization aiming to raise awareness and funds whilst inspiring change throughout Central and South America will bring Dirk Spits on his bicycle, halfway through his expedition from Alaska to Argentina**, to Guatemala. 99%RIDE has chosen to support Niños de Guatemala along with other philanthropic projects throughout Latin America. We are currently excitedly anticipating 99%RIDE’s arrival in Guatemala in April.
Throughout the expedition, 99%RIDE is presenting their work to various establishments which has led to some amazing results: James Logan High School in California successfully raised over 60kg worth of school supplies which they are donating to Niños de Guatemala. The heart-warming efforts that so many people to go to support our projects are more than appreciated and having the opportunity to be in contact with so many inspiring and motivated people is a unique privilege.
One month in to my new and very prestigious position as Communications Officer has introduced me to a new exciting level of authority: my Facebook power is suddenly a lot more exciting and interesting than it has ever been in my entire life. We try and keep everybody posted with all the goings on and happenings from within the projects out here in Guatemala, so make sure you keep up to date with all the action by following our blog/facebook/twitter/website/global giving/anything. Ta ta for now.
*Follow Marissa’s Helping Hands on Facebook and support her hard work to achieve a better future for the children of Guatemala. https://www.facebook.com/marissashelpinghands
**I like the fact that Dirk is cycling from Alaska to Argentina, as Argentina to Alaska sounds like it would be more uphill and just far too much effort (gravity), Alaska to Argentina sounds like a jolly. If you want to follow and support 99%RIDE’s work, please follow the link to their website.