Joseph Hamaty is a Program Specialist in Food For The Poor’s Church and School Department, where he helps oversee the Operation Starfish and Combined Federal Campaign initiatives. Here he shares about a trip to the poor community of El Bejucal, Guatemala.
We drove over treacherous terrain in a mountainous area of Guatemala called El Bejucal. Children navigate this terrain with ease despite being malnourished and ill-equipped with simply their bare feet.
Having a love for the poor and being aware of the need, one of our mission trip participants was able to collect a total of 115 pairs of shoes. Dividing shoes among children was a challenge in and of itself. Not knowing their foot size, we matched each child’s foot with just the right shoe.
One child, whose feet were sullied with mud, was thrilled to receive his pair of shoes. Placing this 3-year-old’s foot into the right shoe reminded me of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Humbled by the look of joy in his eyes as he said “Gracias,” I was blessed with the opportunity to be Christ’s vessel of hope to this child and know that he could walk around his rocky community with shoes on his feet.
In an area where strong homes are scarce, families face the many challenges that the elements in this beautiful landscape pose. Dirt floors and makeshift rusty roofs are no match for the rain, wind, and cold temperatures the climate of Guatemala can bring. But with the help of donors, we are able to better equip these children and families with the essentials they need to survive.
Touched by all five senses while in these dilapidated homes, we were welcomed with open arms. While previously knowing the need for solid homes, what struck me was the intense smells we encountered. From inside the stuffy, unventilated home, during the day the heat and smell is very pungent. However, our presence alone offered those in need a glimmer of hope, hope in the Lord, hope in a better future and hope in mankind.
While there are still 45 out of 55 families in this particular community still in need of houses, we were blessed with the opportunity to paint two of these 10 new houses, allowing the homeowners to take a new-found pride in something they have never had before – a real home.
Food For The Poor was able to provide to the homeowners a gift of security, a gift of a life free protected from the elements. Out of love, funds for the home were donated – in love this home was created.
We are blessed with many things in our lives, and one thing that this trip has taught me is that even though we may think we do not have much to offer the poor, any little thing can mean the world.