The group had an opportunity to venture into the community with Common Hope’s social workers in order to visit local families. Meeting the community face-to-face was a humbling and meaningful experience. Most of the families unfortunately live in extremely impoverished conditions, but their bright spirits were inspiring. Overall, the visits allowed the group to gain a more comprehensive perspective of the world, and it allowed us to connect more personally with the families we were helping.
The group spent most of our days assembling the filtration system. Our mentor first taught us basic construction skills, like how to use a power saw and how to glue PVC pipe. We then split into small groups in order to accomplish our long list of tasks. From missing or incorrect parts to constant rain, nothing seemed to be going our way in the construction of the system. However the very fact that the group was forced to improvise- to engineer solutions on the fly- made the assembly of the apparatus challenging, rewarding, and fun!
Every night after work we went into downtown Antigua and ate dinner at a different restaurant each night. This was a great time to not only see the town but also experience some of Guatemalan culture via their traditional food. I particularly enjoyed these dinners as they were great bonding moments for our team.
After returning from our trip to the Silversmith, we finally got the thumbs up from our mentor that the system was properly functioning! Common Hope had the entire community come out to meet us and thank us, and afterwards we celebrated by holding a toast to clean water. Meeting the community brought most of the group to tears and was by far the most meaningful experience of the trip.
On our last day Common Hope took us to the home of one of their sponsored community members who is a silversmith. While there, we got to see the man’s home and living environment as well as the process of making silver jewelry. This was very eye-opening: to say the least, the way of life in Guatemala is very different from that back home in LA. Still though, we much appreciated learning how the silversmith shaped his materials and how his trade was able to benefit his family.
After we finished our final repairs on Friday, we went into town for some last minute sightseeing and souvenir shopping. Here we got to see some more of downtown Antigua in the daylight and finally relax after four very stressful and physically taxing days. The feeling of pride from our accomplishment definitely made those last few hours even better as we talked, shopped, and ate until we had to go back to Common Hope to prepare for our flight.