Top: Joni Daidone, USA and Karin Baimaan, Holland
Bottom: Madelon Smelik-Eling, Holland; Emese Szorenyi, USA; Me, Guatemala; Arlaine Cervantes, Guatemala
Our most recent visitors! Last week, our 2 Executive Boardmembers from Holland and one of our Executive Boardmembers from the States (Joni), along with our volunteer web designer (Emese) came to Guatemala to get a first hand look at the results of their very hard work.
If you've been reading the Niños del Lago newsletters, you'll know that we'd not be where we are today without Karin and Madelon who have consistently raised the largest percentage of the funds for Niños del Lago. And if you've seen our brochure, you'll see Joni and Emese's work. In the near future, when you see the redesigned NDL website you'll be even more impressed with them.
Together, we had a demanding and fun schedule which included, on most days, a local activity and a Niños del Lago meeting. This was the first time we met in person as one team to plan the year - and you know how much better these things go when you meet in person. We laughed alot and held productive meetings around communication strategy, fundraising and financials. It doesn't get much better than that.
Lastly - a photo of our home cooked lunch the day after their arrival that has to be shared because Emese (she is not to be missed) was looking down in the above picture, and I wanted you also to meet the two additional people from our Guatemalan Board of Directors. On the left: Ana Maria (short hair) and Evelyn Herrera (wavy hair). Ana Maria heads up a project of her own, a school in Alotenango (future Niños del Lago children) and Evelyn is also my strict (but loving) Spanish teacher who gets that I don't like to study.
Left to right: Karin, Ana Maria, Evelyn, Joni, Madelon, Emese.
I think I was cooking or sitting at the kids table.
It's hard to say everything there is to say in less than 60 seconds and since my last statement was cut off, please do fill in the blank with something that makes you smile. And then, tell me what it is!
Since returning, I've picked up where I left off and continued to visit the small local towns close to Antigua. Saturday, my new housemate, Gina, and I went to San Antonio Aguas Calientes. This is a town known for its textiles and embroidery.
You might think that since it has textile shops and is so close to Antigua that they would be used to tourists. You would be right. We barely entered the park when the children - OK, just one boy at this point, followed immediately by his friend - were climbing a cement structure in the plaza and asking to have their photos taken. Generally it's the other way around (No, I didn't mean it's usually the tourists who are climbing on the cement structures. I meant that it's generally the tourists asking if they can take the picture). I do not pass up requests for pictures since I like to share them with you. After the first picture, the rest of the kids came swarming. Kids are kids no matter where you go. They love to look at themselves in the camera.
After having a little fun with the young ones, we went into a shop and met Maximilliana. Gina and I weren't shopping but we enjoy looking at the craftsmanship and after talking with Maximilliana, she suggested that she dress us up as if we were from San Antonio and that we take a picture. This was honestly her idea, not ours. She dubbed us Gina and Kris of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. The headcloth protects your head from the sun and serves as a covering for church.
What a pleasant afternoon. In some way, I felt like the local townspeople were the tourists and we were the ones of interest. Maybe since they outnumbered us to the extent that they did on that day, things did shift a bit.
p.s. Maximiliana has six children ranging in age from 8 to 22 and every one of them is in school. That's so rare and absolutely fantastic to encounter.