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  • Writer's picturePeter Demko

2017 SHGO Trip to Guatemala

We have been quite literally out of contact for the past several days while working in Loma Linda due to the severe weather and earthquakes which occurred before we arrived and while in country. Today, we are leaving behind the wonderful village of Loma Linda and the people there with whom we have been working with since 2011. Its been both a joyful as well as sobering experience for our team. Our efforts in Guatemala over the past 6 years have been to try to help stabilize the economic hardships of the people in this remote mountain village. Cell service is sporadic or nonexistent and hardships are a way of life here. But even though people live a simple subsistence farming life, they are filled with a joy that is often missing in our fast paced modern life in Massachusetts. We left with the assurance that we would continue to support the 1200 villagers in 3 ways: First, to find up to 45 individual or organizational “sponsors” who would be willing to support 1 needy child and their extended family by contributing $25 a month ( $300 annually). Secondly, we committed to raise up to $7500 to rebuild their only school building which was severely damaged in the recent earthquake. Bathrooms for the children need to be rebuilt and the facility upgraded with metal columns to withstand future earthquakes, and third, assist the community in developing new agricultural products which can sustain the community over the years ahead. Coffee growing in Loma Linda has been the staple means of financial sustainability over many years but 5 years ago a deadly coffee plant disease called ‘roya’ has nearly eliminated coffee growing. Our efforts will be modest but may be the best and only opportunity for them. It has been a remarkable trip with children hanging into the arms and legs of our SHGO staff and Clark student (Keisha, Sue, Annalena, Spencer, and Kellee). I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the commitment and genuine concern shown to these people by John Altomare, Chair of our Seven Hills Board and Juan Gomez. The entire team walked for many miles through jungle, in both humid and wet weather, in our collective efforts to both experience Guatemala and help in what ways we are able. Needless to say, the team is tired, damp, and emotionally drained - but more than anything else, they have witnessed the beauty of our common humanity regardless of where on earth we live. The purpose of Seven Hills Global Outreach continues to reach out to support the poorest of the poor in 8 countries around the globe in small ways supporting economic, social, and environmental sustainability. In 2017 we are supporting 17,000 men, women, and children through our work and the support of our donors. And while our efforts at Seven Hills Foundation in America will always remain the focus of our attention and purpose, reaching out to several of the many countries from which our own staff have come only adds to the culture of who we are. Everyone is well and we return to Worcester on Thursday. More tomorrow.

Dr J -

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