See It For Yourself

Students went to Guatemala to work at a health clinic, and replace old water filters.

“When I first brought it up, I don’t think knew I was serious. Then my mom was like, ‘Sure you can go to Guatemala!’ They were worried, but they were willing to let me go,” junior Abby Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman and seniors Rachel Hoelting and Caitlin Beatty volunteered at a health clinic and replaced water filters in Guatemala from June 19 to June 26. In order to raise money for the trip, Interact club set up multiple fundraisers, the most successful being Flamingo Flocking. People would pay money to have them set up flamingos in other people’s yards. The flamingos would remain in the yard for two days then would be removed.

“It was a fundraiser but we appealed to a lot of friends and family. It was very successful,” Zimmerman said.

The students worked in a health clinic in Patantic, Guatemala, sewing baby blankets and helping others set up sewing machines, with this they taught the natives how to sew clothes for themselves. The natives were also taught how to stay healthy by a local dentist.

“I have been wanting to be a dentist, but now after I went I want to get all of my dental here and then go to Guatemala to work at their clinic,” Hoelting said, “They were all so happy . I feel like it would be really cool to be a part of that.”

One of the main things the students did while in Guatemala was replacing old water filters that weren’t purifying water completely. They went house-to-house to make sure everything was working.

“They don’t know if you drink water from the lake you are going to get sick. They aren’t stupid, they just don’t know because they have never had exposure to that type of stuff,” Zimmerman said, “They just don’t have the money or the resources to teach the communities up in the mountains about the water.”

The students went with Heart to Heart International whose goal is to “transform lives through service — one volunteer and one community at a time.”

“When you go down it is truly an eye opening experience. You don’t really realize how good you have it,” Zimmerman said. “You see the pictures on TV, and you hear about , and you know it’s bad, but you don’t really know until you see it yourself. You hear about it and you wish it were better, but when you see it you can’t believe it is actually happening.”

When Zimmerman arrived at the airport, although she was happy to be home, she missed the culture.

“When I came back it was kind of weird. I came back and it was nice to be home, but at the same time, it was like I was much more aware of how lucky I was,” Zimmerman said “It’s a growing experience. It makes you realize how much we take for granted. It makes you appreciate what you have a lot more.”

Interact Club plans on returning to Guatemala next year. They intend to start fundraising immediately.

“I really want more people to experience it,” Hoelting said. “It was a life changing experience you don’t want to miss out on.”