By Pauline and Rod McGregor, Guatemala Child Sponsors
In September we were fortunate to be able to travel to Guatemala in Central America and meet a little boy who we feel is almost part of our extended family. Vielman is four years old and we sponsor him through World Vision Australia.
World Vision arranged for Jose, a staff member, to meet us at our accommodation in the ancient city of Antigua, and we then drove almost four hours along the Inter-Americana Highway, traversing steep volcanic mountains and fertile valleys to the San Juan project’s World Vision office.
It was here that Vielman, his parents and two brothers were waiting anxiously to meet us. They had travelled several hours also, from a remote mountain area to the north, not far from the Mexican border. It was the first time any of the family had been in Quetzaltenango, and I suspect that the long journey by car was not a common occurrence for the family.
Being such a young boy, Vielman was initially rather shy, but when we gave him an apple, along with other gifts for his family, he warmed to us. Vielman’s older brother Walter, took an instant liking to the Aussie Rules football which we had brought and quickly displayed kicking and hand passing talent.
The boys’ father, a farmer who grows maize and coffee, speaking through an interpreter asked us about Australia and our home and we shared some photos of our family and grandchildren. As there was a world map on the wall of the World Vision office, it was easy to point out the route we had taken to get to Guatemala, via USA and also Panama. He appeared to have little concept of the distance from our home here in South Gippsland to his in the mountains of Guatemala, and was impressed that we had come so far.
Vielman’s mother was very shy but we could see that she was grateful for the assistance that being part of a World Vision project gives her family. She receives assistance in understanding nutritional needs for herself and her family and also the general development of children.
The San Juan project the family is involved in targets mainly preschool children, offering parents a deeper understanding of factors affecting the growth and development of their children. Immunisations and regular check-ups are provided to families.