October 10, 2010
It is Thanksgiving this weekend in Canada, the traditional holiday to give thanks for the bounty of the harvest. While I suspect most people now think of it as the last three day weekend before Christmas, many families still gather for the traditional turkey dinner.
I’m spending this week in Guatemala visiting the projects here that I work with. As you know one of these projects is supporting a middle school in the village of El Triunfo. This year we launched an ambitious project to build a second floor on the school so that the school would have the space to hold high school classes next year.
I’m delighted to tell you that the last coat of paint has dried and the final light fixture has been installed in the new space consisting of three classrooms and an office. With the completion of construction, there has been an entire week of “Thanksgiving” in the community to give thanks for the opportunities the new school will bring and the support we have given to it. Since Tuesday there has been five days of religious ceremonies to give thanks for and to bless the school. On Monday there was a wonderful ceremony led by a Mayan priest followed by three days with three different Evangelical Protestant churches.
Yesterday a Catholic mass was held and the school was blessed again by the priest.
It’s been wonderful to be able to take part in these celebrations although sometimes I wish I had a pair of ear plugs!
While the Mayan ceremony took up part of the morning, the activities by the other groups were day-long events featuring music and food. And the normally sleepy street outside of the school was lined with vendors selling a wide range of food and drink.
I’ve also had the opportunity to connect the dots and relationships between the various groups of people I know from the village – weavers, students, and community leaders.
Tomorrow is the official inauguration of the school with local dignitaries including the Mayor of Solola and the Governor of the Department of Solola. I will write later in the week about this.
There are no events planned for today at the school so I’m going to visit my friend Emilie, a Canadian, in the city of Santa Cruz del Quiche. She is currently at the market looking for a turkey. So there’s a chance I could be sitting down with a turkey dinner. No matter what the main course will be, it will still be a chance sit down with friends, reflect on the past year and to give thanks for everything that has happened.
Happy Thanksgiving wherever you might be.
PS – thanks for your donations to the school this year and your donations are still welcome. While we have paid for the construction costs of the school (around $21,000), there are still ongoing costs to pay the salaries of the teachers which will continue into 2011.