Lending a helping hand in Guatemala
Lending a helping hand in Guatemala
David Dollase is the Director of Safety and Security at Sporting Park and received the 2012 National Sports Safety and Security Professional of the Year Award. He arrived in Guatemala on Saturday and will return to Kansas City on Feb. 17th. He will be providing updates, photos and more throughout the trip for SportingKC.com. Below is his report; click here to read previous entries.
Today was much of the he same as the last two days: load the bus, drive to the location, set up and go. However, today was different in other ways. On the way to Sumpango, our guide was late and we pulled over on the outskirts of a small village built up around a service station at a T-intersection. Under normal circumstances we would have all remained in the bus but something drove me to get off and look around.
We were pulled up next to a very narrow sidewalk with a door directly in front of the opening to the bus door. I stood on the sidewalk wishing for a cup of coffee. Several of the doctors and students soon followed and we crowded the slim slab of concrete. As we were making small talk, an elderly gentleman slowly came up the walkway and without a word slipped between us and pulled out a key to unlock the door we were standing in front of. We moved to the side and as he pushed the door in it revealed a tiny convenience store. The man walked behind the counter and I couldn't resist to follow. We made small talk and soon there were several of us in the small space buying Cokes and milling around.
I asked about a coffee and he said he had none but the lady down the street made excellent coffee. Before I left, I noticed a large plastic jar of gum balls on the counter and asked him how much for the entire jar. He hesitated briefly and said “the entire jar?" I said “si" and we agreed on what I guess was a fair price. He asked why I wanted the whole jar and I explained it was for the children that came to the medical clinic. He seemed excited to sell it for such a cause.
I imagine he did more business on this day then he has done in several years. As I remembered the coffee, I walked out onto the street and turned left. I expected to see a store of sorts but it was a lady with an open fire a few yards away with two silver pots and some food in a makeshift vending hut made of an old shopping cart, some wood and a blanket attached to two trees. Before I could reasonably talk myself out of it I was buying a cup of traditional Guatemalan coffee. To all of you coffee drinkers out there that frequent high dollar shops in the states, I can only say you are all missing out. There is a lot to be said about buying straight from the source as I enjoyed one of the best coffees I've ever had.
Now with that story out of the way, once our guide arrived we were on the way to the town of the day. We arrived at a large meeting hall across from a church to see lines of people already waiting to be seen. We set up shop and went to work. I took a soccer ball from the trunk and went outside to the lines and found some eager children to play ball with. The day's hours went quickly and it wasn't long before our guide said the mayor had selected a school and was ready to go. The school was a few miles from the clinic. Along the way we passed the local laundry that consisted of a large fountain. There were women all along the edges doing their wash by hand.
At the school it was obvious immediately that it was different than others we had visited previously. It was quiet and clean and walled in on all sides. We parked the bus and unloaded the trunks. We were met by the principal who guided us down some precarious steps to a lower courtyard. Once down I could see open doors along a wall where classes were being held. Since each of these visits is a surprise, our guide spends a little time explaining why we are there. This was done in his office and after presenting him with a new soccer ball and shorts, jerseys and used shoes we were asked to meet some of the children.
We stepped outside his office to see two orderly lines of boys and girls all around the ages of 10 or so. We gave them shirts, caps and sunglasses and a couple of used soccer balls donated by the KC Cauldron. It was all smiles and a soccer game between the boys and girls was started almost immediately. We played for a while then it was time for the children to return to class. I peeked in to see one of the classes and noticed the dry erase board had odd markings on it. I asked the principal about it and he said the children were learning to be bilingual. He said they were learning Spanish as well as Mayan to continue their culture and heritage.
The head of the school gave a short speech of thanks and said that they would now be the only public school in town with uniforms just in time for the soccer games that started in a few days. They were very proud and at the same time so immensely grateful.
Once we returned, my day was spent dispensing medicine to the 300-plus people that the KCUMB medical mission saw. Again there were many occasions where our small gesture of giving changed people's lives for the better on so many levels. It makes one wonder what the whole world would be like if everyone made an effort to pay it forward. I can't begin to thank all those who gave for this cause. You have all made so much of an impact on the lives of many, especially the children of Guatemala whose first experience with people from the US of A will remain in their hearts and minds as an impression of kindness and care.