The Sweeties That Changed me

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Through traveling to different parts of the United States and the DR these past couple of years, I didn’t really think that experiencing Guatemala would be much different. I thought that I would feel the same as when I had to leave the DR (bittersweet emotions). I sit here at my computer still finding it hard to even describe my experience in the beautiful country. I left changed. Not a typical, “I just saved the world” attitude because I hardly even came close to doing that. I left feeling distraught, confused and heartbroken. Every day I would wake up in Guatemala to serve at the orphanage feeling excited and enthusiastic, even I would say optimistic. Then, I would leave there with my team feeling every essence of the word s-a-d. I didn’t know how I was even making an impact or helping this community.

I worked along three other UCF friends in the baby room, holding over 30 babies between the ages of 1 month old until 4 years old (and one 9 year old boy with Cerebral Palsy). Each day there were barely enough hands to even hold a couple of the babies, feed them and change them. But, believe it or not, the lack of hands was not the problem. The problem was the lack of supplies and resources. These sweetie pies would cry for hours because of the pain they had in their bellies for being so hungry…but I couldn’t do one thing about it, if they ran out of food or the nurses didn’t want me to feed them right then I had to just hold the screaming baby for hours until it was time. Same goes for diapers…if there was a poopy diaper and diapers were already used for the day then I had to hold now a smelly baby who is too upset to even function. My time at the orphanage was difficult to take in because the age group that should be protected and fought for the most were not even being looked after. Each day I would walk up to the room, smelling the dirty diapers from a mile away and be surprised as there were no adults in the room. The five year olds and six year olds were in the room holding the babies- no adults, zip, zero, nada. There was no one fighting for the needs of these sweeties who were beyond helpless.

I cried a lot. I would “use the restroom” but really go and wipe away my tears because I had to have a strong face on for the 60 little eye balls looking up at me for affirmation that they will be ok and most of all loved. I decided after day 1 that I had to look beyond the millions of bed bugs, lice in their hair and poop in their clothes. I had to push forward and look at the child for his/her heart and life. Every day we spent hours holding and loving the babies and when my team would question whether we are making a difference or making it more difficult for the babies to readjust when we would leave- I would tell them that we needed to think of the “now”. We had to worry whether those babies were loved today. Because what kind of mentality would we have it we thought that since they will only be loved on for one week let’s not love them at all. So, we trudged on, getting more and more attached to our littlest sweeties, creating bonds that would never be forgotten by us. These little humans impacted me the most out of everything in Guatemala. I had never seen anyone so vulnerable and so unloved. I truly believe that the orphanage does as much as they can with providing the needs for these kids but they just don’t have the full support from the government as they have little donors other than the government giving them supplies.
Although there seems to be such a negative feel to this blog, please know that this was the most incredible and impacting trip I have ever been on. I will never replace the feeling of love that occurred in that small room with 60 watchful eyes that went both ways. 

I know this blog post may sound about me and oh “whoa is me that I had to witness this” but please, that is not hardly what I am saying. This is reality not only for the thirty sweeties that I loved on that week but the reality for so many others around the world that need more than anything someone who will love for them and fight for them. I decided that I needed to advocate for the needs of these sweeties. I have never left a place truly feeling empowered to do more but after I left Guatemala I know I need to do more. I have been tossing around ideas in my head but before I make a true commitment, I want to make sure I am making the best and most sustainable choices. At the end of the day, the sweeties need someone to fight for them and I know that I am just one person but sometimes that is all it takes.


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