Trip to Latin America, 11th - 21st of April
Author, Hatune Dogan
I just came back from a ten-day trip to Guatemala. Why Guatemala? In February, bishop Jacob Eduardo visited me. He is archbishop of Middle-America, seated in Guatemala. He asked me to visit him, to see, if we could develop projects together, for the many people of his diocese, who live in dire circumstances. He told me about his country with 12 million people, that are almost all Christians. 5% of them are Syrian Orthodox.
Asking myself: how much in need are those people?
He told me about the great poverty and about how much those people are thirsting for spirituality. I told him, that I saw so many poor people in my life, for instance in India. I was doubtful, if the situation was that bad. But I agreed to come. I promised him nothing, just wanted to see the situation there, and wanted to examine, if we could help with our foundation.
The trip to Guatemala was long, more than 36 hours. On the way, I read a lot about the country: that it is poor, afflicted by corruption and criminality. It has one of the world’s highest murder rates, especially since the drug cartels use Guatemala as transit country to the USA.
People scattered in the mountains
Bishop Jacob Eduardo welcomed me and showed me 19 of his parishes during the next eight days. We met delegates from 60 parishes altogether. He is overseeing 600.000 believers in Guatemala. We travelled a lot, we have been to the whole West and North of the country. What I saw has moved me deeply. Dear friends, those people deserve our help.
The people there are living in mountainous areas, alone and scattered in the jungle. They have no streets, no electricity, no water supply. They have never seen a doctor. They live in huts, made of bamboo and leftovers of plastic and metal. they eat, what they can grow and herd (I saw very few chicken, pigs and donkeys).
And yet they are longing for faith. They often make long, exhausting walks to come to a parish and to take part in a religious service. There are no churches yet. The diocese has bought some land, to be dedicated for church buildings. We saw some places, where construction material was already there. But until now, all services take place out in the open or in plastic tents. I was allowed to give some of the future churches it’s names. I participated in 20 baptisms.
They pray the Our Father in Heaven in Aramaic
All this moved me very much. The people were so thankful, many said, I was the first European, that had visited them. During the service, the people prayed the Our Father in Heaven in Aramaic. They were very touched, when I said them, that this is my mother language. They asked me a lot about my home and the home of Aramaic. I had to give three to four speeches a day, to nurse the spiritual thirst of all these lovely people. I saw eyes full of love everywhere. Apart of my heart remained in Guatemala.
Bishop Eduardo and his team have geared towards those people in the mountainous areas for quite some time. There are prosperous parishes with impressive church- buildings in the cities and villages. Apart from there, there is nothing. For that reason, bishop Eduardo sends two-man teams from his 42- men seminary in Guatemala City into the wilderness. They intend to help and teach the people as good as they can, and try make the Christian message real.
The Project: Community Centers
I was very impressed, how truly dedicated bishop Eduardo and his members of the seminary are. They are absolutely trustworthy. The decision, to help with projects here, was made quickly. Everywhere we got, there were one or two people from local communities, that were already instructed to be partners for cooperation. The bishop will lead the projects in responsible position. Already during my trip, we managed to get some projects ready for appliance. What we plan are community centers, houses with medical help, schools and little chapels. Places, that will provide nourishment for body, mind and soul.
A new Continent for the Hatune Foundation
We from the Hatune Foundation want to help those poor and lovable people of Guatemala. It is our first project in South America.
Dear friends, please help us to make it a success. Donation here please http://hatunefoundation.com/international/ .
Warburg 26 April 2016
Sister Hatune Dogan
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