Guatemala

Megan Hartley Photography Hope of Life Guatemala 0066.jpg

Last week I went to Guatemala with a group of 20 of the most wonderful women on a trip with World Help.

"How was your trip?" people have asked me sweetly all week.

"Great!" I've replied, not sure how to really answer the question.

It's the truth - it was great. But it was also so many other things. Devastating. Beautiful. Thought provoking. Convicting. Hopeful. We saw extreme poverty and illness. We saw incredible joy and hope. We served food at a landfill where hundreds of people LIVE, scrounging for food and recyclables. We prayed and cried with mothers whose children are very sick. We held those sick babies. We snuggled children with special needs. We met Carlos Varga, who founded Hope of Life after narrowly escaping death 30 years ago and ever since has dedicated his life to helping the people of Guatemala. We dedicated a water well in a village of people so ecstatic to have clean water for the first time that one old woman kept calling us "mis ángeles" - my angels. We welcomed a family who had been living at the landfill into a new, safe, clean home. We rescued a malnourished boy who was 13 years old and weighed only 61 pounds. Extreme sadness. Extreme joy. Extreme everything.

The truth is my heart was touched by the people of Guatemala and spending time at the Hope of Life ministry was so deeply encouraging. It truly is a place of HOPE - a 3,000 acre compound that is home to a hospital, orphanage, elderly care home, and Kelly's house, a home for special needs children. Hope of Life sends people into the remote mountains and jungles of Guatemala to find sick children and literally rescues thousands of babies and children a year. It is an incredible and unique place and, with the support of World Help, it is a place doing the important work of saving lives.

I am so thankful to have been able to take photos throughout the trip, both to document and because taking photos is one of my best tools for making meaning. And this trip was meaningful - so very meaningful.

I left Guatemala knowing that I will be back. The women I traveled with (who have some of the biggest hearts I've ever encountered) and I are committed to helping the people we met. During our trip we learned that there is a huge need to expand the facilities at Kelly's House, the home for children with special needs. It is such an incredible facility in a country with very few resources for children with special needs. There is a waiting list of 200 children whose families are hoping and praying to get them into Kelly's House where they can receive the care and therapy they need and deserve. Fundraising for the expansion has already began and our group has committed to raising the remaining necessary funds - an additional $70,000. I hope you also find these photos and stories meaningful and that you'll consider donating toward this effort.

On to the photos - Our first stop in Guatemala was at the landfill that so many people call home ...

I'm already looking forward to my next trip back to Guatemala and back to these beautiful people! Again, if these photos or stories have moved you, I ask that you consider donating toward the expansion of Kelly's House to help meet the needs of these very special children. Thanks for allowing me to share my photos and my heart.