Saturday, July 16, 2016

Niños con Benedición

On our first full day in Guatemala we had the unique experience of being welcomed into the home of Lesbi and Tino Chavez in the town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, about 20 minutes away from Antigua.

Like most of the homes we saw in Guatemala, it was very simple on the outside. There was nothing on the door to indicate what you would find inside. Driving and walking down the streets you wonder what lies beyond the doors and colorful walls - if there are hidden garden courtyards (which is the case for most of the restaurants and hotels, and, probably the homes of wealthier families) and what the kitchens and bedrooms look like.

Lesbi and Tino live modestly. Their home is larger than most as it serves as a daycare for about 20 children before and after school so their parents can work. They help the children with homework and teach them traditional songs and dances. The children perform for visiting tour groups to earn money for school, books, uniforms, and to bring home to help supplement their family income.

Lesbi and Victor (our guide)
On the day of our visit, after we all spent money on their textiles, our guide said that the families would go out and buy corn and other food that night thanks to our purchases.

Inside, once our eyes adjusted to the darker atmosphere, we could see dirt floors on the first level in a big open room, an open fire for cooking, and a big sink with running water where toothbrushes were labeled and lined up for the children.

Beyond that, there was an open courtyard that let light in and steps leading to the rest of the house which was under construction with cinderblocks and concrete. We were told that they are raising money to expand the daycare to a community center and construction was on hold until they had enough to continue the next phase. 

We were invited to sit on small stools set in a semi-circle as the children each came out and introduced themselves and told us what region of Guatemala their outfit was from. Some did this in English and some spoke in Spanish. 

The older children played marimba music while the others danced. Eventually, they had us all dancing with them!

Grace and Izzy
We all learned how to make tortillas - a staple in the Guatemalan diet. Three times a day, tortillas are made fresh by grounding corn and then patting the dough into small round circles. Grace was the first child to jump right in and give it a try. After, we enjoyed them with black bean paste and some hot sauce.  Yum! I kind of want one now...

One really special part of our visit was when the Niños children dressed our children in traditional huipiles (blouses) and cortes (skirts). They braided with a long weaved ribbon that we ended up buying to take home with us. Grace said she felt very special and that this was a great memory. 

All the "American" kids were dressed up in some beautiful examples of Guatemalan weaving. After a while, you couldn't tell who were the children growing up in Guatemala and who were the ones who are growing up in the United States!
Ana and Grace
Rosa, Luis, Ana, and Grace
Grace with one of the girls from  Niños con Bendición

Grace smiled so much during this visit! Everything fit with the things she loves - music, dancing, dressing up, cooking - and now, Guatemala!

You can learn more about Niños con Bendición at

1 comment:

Nan said...

Great day, great blog! Should put it on facebook too!
I loved talking with the tour guides and the children. It is amazing how education is a high priority in this country. Many people helping them build this school and many other schools everyone in Antigua and Pana.