Common Hope

Common Hope's mission is to promote hope and opportunity in Guatemala, partnering with children, families, and communities who want to participate in a process of development to improve their lives through programs in education, health care, and housing.
Feb 12, 2016

Jose receives specialized care, stays in school

Jose and his mother Maria
Jose and his mother Maria

Jose is 13 years old and was born with Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome, a neurological disorder caused by tissue attachments that limit the movement of the spinal cord. When Jose was 4 months old he received an operation to repair the spinal cord, but this caused secondary symptoms of other neurological issues, including deformations in his legs and feet. When Jose was five years old, he became affiliated with Common Hope and was able to receive support from our medical clinic. Specifically, Jose needed special leg braces called ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) to help him walk. Jose’s mother, Maria, said that these AFOs were very expensive and without medical support from Common Hope’s Healthcare Program, they would not have been able to get them.

In the fall of 2015, Jose came to the Antigua medical clinic for a checkup and the doctors realized that he had grown out of his AFOs and was having trouble walking as a result. Common Hope helped get Jose fitted for new AFOs and ordered special shoes tailored specifically for his condition. Now Jose is walking without any problems. Dr. Walter Estrada, the Antigua Clinic Director, described the day Jose received his new AFOs;

“It was indescribable to see the happiness on Jose’s face now that he can walk well again, and Jose’s response of gratitude was to give me a big hug. These are the priceless moments.”

The medical care Jose has received is helping to remove a barrier that might otherwise have kept him from staying in school. Jose has been affiliated with Common Hope for eight years and just started 7th grade in January. Jose’s favorite subject is math and he wants to be an agricultural engineer when he grows up. Thanks to new AFOs, he’s well on his way to achieving his goal.

Donations from supporters like you make it possible for Common Hope’s Healthcare Program to provide MORE THAN routine checkups and medications. You have allowed us to go beyond, providing specialized medical care for students like Jose. Thank you for helping students and their family members stay on the path to reach their dreams for the last 30 years.

We receive many questions regarding the extent of services our Healthcare Program provides to students and families. Do you have any questions for our Antigua Clinic Team? Please feel free to leave a comment or question! 

Jose
Jose's new AFO
Nov 19, 2015

2015 Graduation Week Celebration

Dona Oli, her youngest son Kevin, and her husband
Dona Oli, her youngest son Kevin, and her husband

Graduation week was filled with fun activities, touching moments, and inspirational speeches. We had the honor of receiving 47 visitors who came to celebrate the graduation of 147 students and 3 university students.

The graduation ceremony was emceed by Mynor Lemus, Director of New Hope, and Lys Barrios, Sponsorship Coordinator in Guatemala. The program included participation from parents, sponsors, students, and staff. Juana Olinda, known to many of us as Doña Oli, spoke on behalf of the parents; her family has been affiliated with Common Hope for 16 years. Doña Oli’s youngest son, Kevin, was graduating and she expressed her deep gratitude to Common Hope for all their support:

“It is a dream come true to have all five of our children graduate with professional degrees, something that is difficult to achieve in these times, but that isn’t impossible. And that is where we see the support of Common Hope reflected; because alongside my support and that of my husband was Common Hope; alongside the effort of my children was Common Hope. Today, we can all say ‘Mission Accomplished!’ as we present a new group of professionals to the country.”

Dr. Steven Humbert spoke on behalf of the sponsors and shared his gratitude for the opportunity to be in relationship with his sponsored students and their families. With a lot of practice and preparation, Steve prepared his remarks in Spanish so that he could speak directly to the students and families. Steve and his wife Lynn have sponsored nine students over the years and are currently sponsoring five students, including Amanda, who graduated this year. In addition to being a sponsor, Steve has also visited Guatemala 28 times leading dental teams of graduating dentists from the University of Minnesota, providing dental services to families in San Rafael, New Hope and Antigua.

Graduation week in Guatemala is such an amazing time for the students, families, and also for the staff members. It's an opportunity to reflect on the hardships many students had to overcome and a time to celebrate their triumphs. In many ways, graduation signifies the culmination of all the work set in motion throughout the years. And as staff, visitors, and families members watched the 147 graduates walk in their caps and gowns, it was hard not to be moved by the immense sense of peace, pride, and happiness knowing these students are on the path to a brighter future.

Thank you to all of the donors who support Common Hope's work in Guatemala. Your gifts make education possible, which in turn makes HOPE possible. 

Sponsor & volunteer dentist Dr. Steve Humbert
Sponsor & volunteer dentist Dr. Steve Humbert
Emcees Lys and Mynor
Emcees Lys and Mynor
Graduates waiting for the ceremony to begin
Graduates waiting for the ceremony to begin
Graduates from the village of San Rafael
Graduates from the village of San Rafael
A shot of the graduation ceremony at Common Hope
A shot of the graduation ceremony at Common Hope
Aug 19, 2015

Youth put skills into action to help peers in need

Members of the youth group help pour cement blocks
Members of the youth group help pour cement blocks

The Youth Support Program in Antigua provides academic and emotional support for 796 youth, helping to ensure that they reach their goal of graduating from high school. The program also plays a crucial role in achieving Common Hope’s long-term goals that youth develop critical thinking skills and possess the confidence, compassion, and organizational skills that will enable them to be multipliers of our work and agents of change in their communities.

Katie, the Youth Leadership Program Facilitator, says, “The youth who participate in our programs learn to build trust and strong bonds and want to support each other.”

Recently, the youth in Antigua have demonstrated how they are putting the skills they’ve learned into action to help their peers who are in need.

Lending a helping hammer

Last month, a member of the youth group and her family had to suddenly move out of their home and they were left with nowhere to go. When the other kids in the program learned about the family’s situation, they decided to help the family build a new place to call home. As a group, they began working sweat equity hours that will count towards the construction of the family’s new home.

Ensuring a friend stays in school

In December, a group of Common Hope students found out that a friend, who is not affiliated with Common Hope but who participates in some of our youth activities, was not going to be able to continue studying. The young girl’s father had abandoned the family and her mother didn’t have enough money to continue paying her school fees.

The group decided to spend their December holiday doing fundraising activities in the community to help raise money for their friend. When they returned from vacation in January, the youth group invited the mother and daughter to come to Common Hope where they presented their friend’s mom with the funds they had raised.

It was a beautiful representation of how the youth at Common Hope understand the importance of education and want to ensure that their friends also continue studying.

What you make possible

Poor living conditions, domestic violence, and hunger are just a few of the tremendous obstacles that the youth of Guatemala face on a daily basis that can prevent them from receiving an education.

The Youth Support Program is there to help our students, along with youth from the broader community, overcome these obstacles standing in their way. Stories like these serve as great examples of how the confidence, compassion, and skills that the youth have built inside our walls are extending outward. Not only are they receiving support, but they are also multiplying this support in their own communities, helping to build hope for a better future.

Your generous gifts are what make critical programs like the Youth Support Program possible. Thank you for supporting nearly 800 students who participate in this program.

What similarities and/or differences do you see between the youth of Guatemala and young people around the world? Have you heard other stories of young people making a difference by helping their peers in need? Would you like to see us publish more stories about our youth group?  

 

Working hard to help build a new home for a friend
Working hard to help build a new home for a friend
 
   

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