To Guatemala, with love

  • Lilly Dell of Hancock, on the right, helps assemble a stove while volunteering in Guatemala this past February. Courtesy Photo

  • Lily Dell of Hancock holds Angelito at a children’s home in Guatemala. Courtesy Photo

  • While volunteering in Guatemala last February, Paul Dell and his daughter Faith Dell of Hancock, center, and Eleanor Kalloch of Jaffrey, on the right, assemble a water filter as the recipient, on the left, looks on.  Courtesy Photo

  • Last February the Dell, Downing, and Stanbury families spent their winter vacation in Guatemala assembling and distributing water filters, stoves, and bunk beds. From left to right, Sandra Mackay of Francestown, Martha Dahl of Peterborough, Sorrell Downing of Francestown, Hayden, Caroline and Lori Dumaine Weeks of Greenfield, Faith, Lily and Jennifer Dell of Hancock, Eleanor Kalloch of Jaffrey, Jacqueline Madeja of Peterborough, Kate Stanbury of  Jaffrey, Paul Dell of Hancock and Amanda Ansorge of Montclair, New Jersey. Courtesy Photo

For the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/15/2019 11:01:18 AM

For three local families, “love” is a verb. Last February the Dell, Downing, and Stanbury families spent their winter vacation in Guatemala assembling and distributing water filters, stoves, and bunk beds. They will return with even more volunteers in February 2020 and hope to deliver even more of these items.

The group invites others to help by joining them at a Friendship to Guatemala fundraiser Friday, Oct. 25 at Hilltop Golf Course, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets are $50 per person or two for $85 and can be purchased at team-friendship-guatemala.myshopify.com. There will also be a silent auction at the event.

Simple Guatemala-inspired food will be served, and the hosts will share a presentation on El Amor de Patricia children’s home, and the village of Yalú.

El Amor de Patricia is a sanctuary for 25-30 abandoned, abused and neglected children. Beyond the creature comforts and loving family environment, the nonprofit home provides an education for the children who live there.

Jen and Paul Dell, of Hancock have been visiting Guatemala since 2000 when they adopted the first of their three daughters there.

“We continued to visit over the years to keep a connection to their birthplace. Over time we got to know the beauty, generosity, and openness of the Guatemalan people, as well as many of the challenges that poverty and other issues present to them on a daily basis,” Jen Dell said.

In 2013, the Dells first visited the children’s home at El Amor de Patricia and since then have committed family vacations to volunteering at the home and delivering beds, safe cooking stoves and clean water filters to the nearby residents of Yalú.

“The children’s faces light up when they receive their first bed. Sleeping in a bed, instead of on the ground, makes a huge and life long difference in the life of a child. It just makes sense; when a child sleeps better, they are sick less often, they are more able to concentrate, they do better in school, and these things have a ripple effect throughout their lives,” Jen Dell said.

The group purchases all items locally in Guatemala, supporting residents beyond the walls of the children’s home. The gifts they deliver immediately improve a family’s life. The stoves are vented to the outdoors, replacing dangerous, smoky indoor fires that cause respiratory illness. The insulated stoves prevent children from getting burned by open fires. And women aren’t spending as much time gathering wood for each meal.

Dell hopes others will want to help.

“The things we are delivering are basic, but they are life-changing. These items make their lives easier, in a place where life is hard. It’s wonderful that we now take groups with us on these service trips. This helps us to not only provide more beds, stoves, and water filters to families in need, but it also enriches the lives of our American group members as they increase their awareness of the world around us and build human connections with people living very different lives. Human to human connection is a powerful thing, it’s why we call ourselves Team Friendship.

In February, eight Monadnock area families will travel with Team Friendship to deliver the items purchased with donations from the fundraiser. The volunteers delivering and assembling the beds, stoves and water filter, each pay all of their own travel expenses.

Sorrell Downing, Francestown, will be with Team Friendship in February, along with her daughters, Sandra, 17, and Katie, 12. Both girls were adopted from Guatemala.

While in Guatemala last February, Sandra sent this message to her friends back home, “So here I am returning to Guatemala after 16 years. I met some pretty amazing people who are happy and joyful and thankful for anything we did. We built bunk beds, and stoves in Yalu and I played my violin for the children in the schools. It was an incredible experience to see so much of Guatemala and I look forward to going back.”

While on the trip, Sandra’s mother often said, “There is no place on earth I would rather be at this moment. It is just beautiful– the country, the people and the universal language of love. ”

Kate Stanbury, of Jaffrey, and her 12-year old daughter Eleanor, a student at The Well School, made their first trip to Guatamala in February 2019.

“The experience was so unique and deeply affecting,” Kate said.

In February, Stanbury will travel to Guatemala again, this time with her daughter as well as her son, Sam who is a junior at Conant High School.

“This trip is their Christmas present, ” Kate said.


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