Service trip to Latin America aids orphans, builds relationships

Dea Sulejmani, staff reporter

Summer, a word that consumes the minds of GBS students as a time when activities will soon replenish lives. For some students, they wake up beside the mountains of Guatemala, complete chores during the day and spend their evenings with kids in an orphanage. GBS students have an opportunity to attend a yearly summer service trip with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH, Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”) to one of nine Spanish-speaking countries to aid orphaned kids.

NPH aims to help children and their families and transform their lives for the better, according to Chuck Allworth, Midwest regional director. Beyond physical help, volunteers formulate relationships and bonds with the disadvantaged children, Allworth explained.

“Our trips are not designed to build things,” Allworth said. “Rather, they are designed to build relationships and bridges of intercultural understanding. Being present to children who are orphaned, abandoned and at-risk is a huge service in and of itself.”

According to Allworth, volunteers have a choice to provide aid in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.

Seniors Megan Kennedy and Sarah Briggs, who both went to Guatemala three times with NPH, explain that the organization provides the children with food, shelter, education and hope through projects and chores. Kennedy, along with other GBS students, sponsor one or two children on the trip, and refer to their close child or children as their “godchild” or “godchildren.”

“My two godchildren were both in high school, so I wasn’t able to see them around the home everyday,” Kennedy said. “So they organized for my two kids to come on my last day when I was there.”

Spanish classes at GBS try to inform students about both traditions and issues in Spanish speaking countries, according to Danita Fitch, World Language Department instructional supervisor.

“It’s really important to talk about some of the issues happening in those countries whether there are instances of poverty, discrimination or oppression,” Fitch said.

According to Kennedy, Briggs and Strong, they have all gone back and will continue to go back because they genuinely value their time spent in Guatemala.

“The kids are the happiest kids I have ever met,” Briggs said. “I don’t even call it community service, it’s a trip that I love to take.”