Guatemala a land of culture, colour and life-changing moments

World Vision child sponsor Brittany Olsson has just travelled to Guatemala to meet her sponsored child Wendy. As you also sponsor a Guatemalan child, we thought you might like to hear about the trip.

Wendy’s face sat on an orange World Vision card in the middle of a shopping centre, and as I walked past her I knew that she was the little girl I wanted to invest my time and money in helping. I never thought that sponsoring a child was on my list of things to do, however, my knowledge of the sex trade in Guatemala and the lack of choices and knowledge young women have in regards to contraception, conception, resorting to prostitution or becoming a victim of human trafficking and exploitation confirmed my choice to sponsor a younger girl in Guatemala.

At the time of sponsorship Wendy was a three-year-old from a village in Guatemala that is consumed by poverty, lack of access to health, education and multiple women’s rights issues.

The pictures, hand prints and the words on letters turned into reality during my year abroad. I was blessed with one of the most incredible experiences of meeting the family I had chosen to send money and love to every month. When we took a first glimpse of Wendy she was full of life and dressed from head to toe in her traditional Mayan attire together with a smile. Her energy levels were like any little five-year-old girl and before we knew it we were running around playing, laughing and enjoying every moment. Before arriving I was apprehensive about the reaction I would receive, however, her mother – together with the local ADP (World Vision area development program) team – was so thankful for the support, love and dedication I had put in, which made the journey to visit her and members from the community more worthwhile.

My sister and I spent one month in Guatemala and we loved every minute. The colours, the indigenous culture, the speed, the food, the children and the scenery were beyond inviting and so different from every other Central American country we had visited. During our four-month backpacking adventure we communicated with the sponsor visit office in Australia and in Guatemala to arrange our visit to Wendy. The visit was held in an office in Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala, as the road closures prevented cars entering and exiting the remote community due to heavy rain.

My sister and I were invited to lunch and we had wrapped up a range of inexpensive gifts to assist Wendy with her transition into primary school. The wrapping paper came off faster than we could imagine, and the photo album that took us hours in the hostel was pushed aside so she could cuddle the teddy bear and throw around a pink ball that cost us the equivalent of four cents.

Travelling without employment for a year and making regular payments to World Vision was at times concerning. However, to see this little girl’s happiness and to hear directly through her mother and World Vision the opportunities she has for education and health was phenomenal. As a result of the sponsorship of Wendy, the mother has now been elected the president of ‘Women’s Rights’ in the community and empowers single mothers like herself voluntarily. This to me is the most incredible outcome I could have anticipated.

In return (for sponsorship) you know you are helping better the lives of not only that child but their family and the entire community.