October 4th, 2016
Volunteering with Eagle Creek – Nedra Fabito
Life altering experiences always happen when you least expect it. However, I like to say that if you pay attention…the universe will point you in the right direction.
And it did. I just so happened to be sitting next to a woman named Wave Clausisus on a plane one day. Oftentimes while traveling I want my private space, but other times, like this day, I enjoyed making new friends. Wave and I stopped reading our books and began to talk. She told me about her work and her position on the board at Mayan Families, an non-profit organization that works to educate, feed, shelter and heal the impoverished populations of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. This casual conversation with a stranger transformed into a life changing experience for both me and my teenage boys, Nico and Rafa.
I’ve been at VF corporation as VP of Product for Eagle Creek for less than two years. After having an inspiring conversation on the airplane I became curious about the volunteering program offered through Eagle Creek’s Live.Work.Travel.™ program. Once I took the time to understand the Mayan Family Program, I was immediately drawn to it. From the beginning the staff was warm, grateful and extremely helpful in developing an itinerary so that our family would have an enriching eye-opening experience.
Our our first day in Panajachel, Guatemala we worked hard - physically and emotionally. We loaded up a pick-up truck with lots of food to deliver to the preschools. This experience allowed us to get to know the communities Mayan Families work with. While delivering food to the preschools, Rafa, Nico and I instantly connected with the children. Nico and Rafa even went boldly into practicing their Spanish skills, using their knowledge to become our translator with the children. Rafa hasn’t stopped speaking Spanish since.
The following days we spent installing fuel-efficient stoves to families in great need in San Antonio Palolo, SanJorge Laguna and Tiera Linda. It was amazing how much a stove impacted these four families. These families are at high risk of respiratory and eye problems, because they are burning open fires on the dirt or cement floors of their homes. What seemed as a small gesture to us, donating a stove, was actually saving a life.
After all these eye opening experiences in the field, we spent our last day meeting the elderly and children from the Kids in Critical Needs Program. Sharing a meal across 4 generations was the perfect way to end our fun, yet inspirational week. To make the day even better for the elderly and the children, Nico and Rafa lead a game of bingo! The room was filled with so much laughter that day.
It was truly and amazing experience. Nico’s been effected through music and Rafa’s view on the world has changed. My eyes were opened to just how people survive in difficult circumstances while smiling and laughing. I have not only become more compassionate and understanding of those less fortunate than me but also very grateful what my family has.
Thank you Mayan families and Eagle Creek for sending me and my family on a trip we will forever remember.
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