Hope Guatemala: Finding New Ways
By Seán McGillicuddy
I always wanted to get involved with a charity but I wanted it to happen organically. Two years ago I took part in Hope Guatemala’s charity run and was very impressed by how founder Eddy Dieckmann and friends were helping the people in Guatemala. Having said that, for two years I didn’t do anything else about this, or so I thought.Over the past few years I kept up friendship with Eddy and went along to many events that he organised to raise money including music gigs by up and coming local band Strange Attractor, concerts such as The Sacred Heart University Orchestra, and the launch of their book “Children of The Finca Florencia”. I decided it was time to get more involved.
I went to a few meeting and afterwards I thought, “What can I really do to help, sure who I am?” Then Eddy asked me to go with him to Guatemala. I didn’t think about it, I just said “Yes” and before I knew it we were on a flight to Guatemala and it was an eye opening experience. The plan was to connect with Hope Guatemala, and their German sister charity Nuevo Dia’s, partner NGOs ASECSA and SEFCA in Guatemala, meet the communities which HG/ND have been helping, and to investigate new projects. It was an intense couple of weeks but very worthwile.
New Project: „Finca California“
My first impression was the positivity. Everyone smiles and welcomed us with open arms. We went to one community, a possible new project, called Finca California (Finca being the landowners land and California being nothing like the place you think of in North America). The sun was high in the sky the foliage was ripe but the situation was bleak. The families living here haven’t been paid for years for the work they are dong for the Finca owners, are not allowed to eat the crops they grow and have no entitlements, not even being allowed to keep a dog without the landlords permission (who they never see and you guessed it, lives in California). The amazing thing about the people living here is that they wanted to share with us the little food they had. All the other communities did the same and we always took what they offered so as not to offend. This was the first time that none of us could take what they were offering, the possibility of offending was outweighed by their own need. Needless to say, this could be one of HG/NDs new projects. To help this community, and other surrounding communities, HG/ND is in talks with their partner organisations to acquire land and invite the people of these communities to farm it. This way the people have a place to grow their own food and the possibility of bringing some of this food to market. Of course, there will be difficulties in trying to do this. However, having seen the positive effect HG/ND has had on communities which they have been involved with over the past 10 years and the can do attitude of the people in these communities, not to mention the abundance of water, their own produce and houses that are no longer just made out of planks of wood, plastic sheeting and corrugated iron, it is my firm belief that HG/ND will be successful helping the people of Finca California also.