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)|
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 http://www.ninosconbendicion.com/.