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Panajachel Colegio Internacional – A Door of Hope

Our journey in Guatemala began with an awkward silence. A silence that hushed us from asking the question, “What is your dream?” here. The story of Lemar’s “I don’t want to think about that (her dream)” and a young Guatemalan boy’s “Shit you” left us wondering – is there any point of this project in this part of the world…at all?

ChinitasIt was at this point in time when we met “Auntie Ling” at her restaurant, “Chinitas”. Having seen us work non-stop on our computers in her restaurant over 2 days, Auntie Ling decided to ask us, “Are you girls volunteering here in Pana?”

We shared our project and stories with her, and Auntie Ling asked us, “Would you like to come and share your stories with my kids and their school? I believe the children would love to have you.”

And so, our very first sharing in Guatemala happened. The next day, we found ourselves cycling to Panajachel Colegio Internacional (PCI):

No presentations, no photos, no videos
Just us, the teachers and the kids
Out in the garden

Some questions, some answers
Lots of laughter
And some thoughtful silences

Someone said, “PCI is a special school. Education happens here.”
We asked them, “What then, does ‘Education’ mean to each of you?”

A beautiful morning of discussions and reflections later
We asked them, “Would you share your dreams with us?”

And here they are, our first hands of hopes from Guatemala (click on the thumbnails to view the full image):

“I think these are the most colorful and vivid hands we’ve ever had on this journey. Looking at the ‘paintings’ on their hands, I know that they are already living their dreams so surely and so intensely. I take that as a sign of hope for our journey in Guatemala. A good sign.” Tay

“Looking at what they’ve written and drawn on their hands. Listening to what they have to share. Knowing that these are our children of tomorrows… I think, we’re in good hands.”Val

Dear “little ones” (and the not-so-little ones) at PCI:

Every time we step into a school
We thought we’d be the ones sharing a thing or two
We hoped our stories would inspire a dream or two

And we would leave
Humbled by what the school had shared with us
Inspired by the learnings exchanged

You are no different
And you have left colorful footprints in our hearts

Thank you – for receiving us with such warmth and open-ness
Thank you – for sharing with such honesty and love
PCI is, indeed, a very special school

A side note to Auntie Ling:
Empanadas ChinaDear Auntie Ling, who would have thought that we’d meet a neigbourly Malaysian in Pana, in Guatemala? Thank you, for opening our first door of hope in Guatemala. And thank you, for the wonderful “Empanadas China aka Pot Stickers (鍋貼)” to fill our hungry stomachs after the sharing at PCI!

Coming up: A preview of Auntie Ling’s story…

Help us share one more story –
Your spare change, even if it’s just $1, will go a long way