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"The people of San Rafael are an inspiration, examples of dedication and will. They show us how we can achieve what we set out to do and not lose heart." —Lesbia Marroquin, San Rafael Coordinator
Common Hope promotes hope and opportunity in Guatemala, partnering with children, families, and communities who want to participate in a process of development to improve their lives through education, health care, and housing.With their enduring values and focused vision, Common Hope has dedicated itself to nurturing the future of children and families in Guatemala. Rooted in the belief that education is the key to unwinding the cycle of poverty, Common Hope has created a balanced and organized support system for not only the students, but the entire community.
Common Hope welcomes anyone willing to serve the poor, and we serve those living in poverty without regard to religion. Although Common Hope was founded on Christian ideals, we believe that people of different faith traditions can join together in service and can live their spirituality without proselytizing.
Our vision and philosophy are based on spiritual principles. We honor all beliefs that lead people to health. We embrace spiritual values such as hope, forgiveness, compassion, respect, love, service, and the pursuit of peace.
Common Hope recognizes that people, whatever their belief, are equal and deserve respect. We value the strength that diversity offers, and acknowledge that we are all connected.
If we respect those we serve, we must allow them the freedom to develop their own spirituality. We recognize that their poverty is physical, and they are often desperate for the services we provide. We recognize that our physical wealth gives us power, and it would be abusive to use this power to dictate belief.
If we respect those we serve, we acknowledge that they have gifts to share with us. Perhaps we can learn from the deep faith they have developed in facing death and hardship on a daily basis. Perhaps we can grow together in our spirituality.
Education: Common Hope’s Education Program provides the necessary resources for thousands of impoverished students to stay in school and be more successful students. The program also creates partnerships with local schools to support and enhance the education students receive. We help children attend school from preschool to high school graduation, and we also provide competitive scholarships for young adults to attend university.
Health Care: Common Hope's Health Care Program provides basic curative and preventive health care, preventive health care education, dental care, prenatal education, a pharmacy, nutrition services, and community health fairs that reach the broader community. In Antigua, we run a medical and dental clinic that serves affiliated families from the 15 Antigua valley communities where we work. In New Hope, affiliated families have access to a clinic built by Common Hope and run by our health care partner, Sangre de Cristo. In San Rafael, families have access to a clinic run by El Faro, another nonprofit health care partner.
Housing Program: Common Hope provides opportunities for families to earn homes that are clean, dry, and safe. This includes a concrete floor that reduces parasites by more than 75 percent, and a vented stove that uses one-third the firewood and routes harmful smoke out of the home. Families can also earn a latrine, retaining wall, and utilities like water and electricity.
Family Development Program: Each family affiliated with Common Hope works with a social worker to create goals and plans to achieve them. The social worker facilitates a family’s access to all of Common Hope’s integrated programs. In addition to education, health care, and housing, families have access to Al-Anon, parenting education, legal support, job placement services, and emergency relief.
(Learn more about the Common Hope's Short Term & Long Term Volunteer Programs as well as their Vision Teams: Either you can join an already existing vision team or you can organize your own vision team with a group of close friends and/or colleagues. Vision Teams provide a great opportunity to get a different perspective of Common Hope's programs and the Guatemalan culture.)
Short-term volunteer opportunities are available to individuals throughout the year. Applications should be submitted at least six weeks prior to travel to ensure availability. While there are no application fees or program costs, volunteers are responsible for their own travel expenses and accommodations. Home stays are sometimes available for a fee.
An eight day Vision Team is available for groups and requires both fee payment - which covers room and board - and a fundraising goal.
For more information, please visit Common Hope's website, and feel free to contact them with any of your questions.
In addition, The First Unitarian Universalist Parish of Brookline served on one of Common Hope's vision teams last year. Feel free to check out their blog, and learn about their experiences.
"The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows."—Sydney J. Harris
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.
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