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HEAR FROM OUR SCHOLARS
Scholarship Students Worldwide
4 schools of medical care provided on medical missions
Service trips conducted
Wealth increase for scholarship graduates
Patients served on Medical Missions
3 service groups can complete a home
FROM OUR VOLUNTEERS
I’m so happy that I went on this trip. The joy that people have in Guatemala is incredible. It’s bittersweet: When I went to Guatemala and I was serving people, it was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be that happy again.Anonymous, Marian High School
Medical Missions like this allow you to come home and look at your own patients a different way. I think it’s very rewarding, both personally and professionally.Dr. Harry Carr, M.D.
We did this exercise where we had to buy a week’s worth of groceries on $7, and it was absolutely eye-opening. It was really hard, and what I came up with wasn’t food that I wanted to eat. But that’s the reality for them. I get a Starbucks every morning that costs as much as their food for their whole family for the whole week.Anonymous, Saint Michael's Catholic Academy
Note: For the safety of our scholars, the names of the scholars, their parents, and the places they live or attend school have been changed or redacted.
Note: Since this letter was written, Nora has graduated from high school and started studying at University.
Everything started when my parents got together. They lived in Zone 18 [of Guatemala City] with my grandmother and my uncles, who lived lives full of luxury because they belonged to gangs. But their lives were not calm. My family depended on my grandmother for money, who worked selling tin and bottles, and I was also born with a deformity and have had to have many expensive surgeries throughout my life.
My parents didn’t know what to do with me when I was born deformed. They immediately took me to a surgeon and they had to operate for me to breathe. My mom did not accept me at first and left me with my maternal grandmother, Elsa, and my uncles, who took care of me for the first year of my life. They fed me with a syringe because that was the only way I could eat. Eventually my mom accepted my deformation and I lived again with her and my two little sisters.
For a little while after that, everything seemed to be going well, until one day we discovered that the gangs had killed my Uncle. My uncle was shot 8 times and my family was devastated. He was my mother’s favorite brother. Time passed and my other uncles wanted revenge for my uncle’s murder. I remember that I was 4 years old when the gang killed a second uncle because he clashed with them. My mom had 7 siblings but now only 5 were left – and one fled to the USA, so only 4 remained in Guatemala.
My mom was looking for work and started working in a nightclub with her brothers selling drugs. My mom did not want to, but she needed to make money. She eventually got a different job, but the salary was not enough for all my medical expenses and our bills. My dad helped, but it was not enough. There were days that my family did not have enough money to get anything to eat. One day my mom talked with my dad about fleeing to the USA for a better life. He and I did not pay much attention to it, but one day we woke up and my mom had left for the USA in a red car.
After she left, my dad stopped taking care of me and my sisters, and my mom left us very little money, so we went to live with a friend of my grandmother. We worked together to sell cans and bottles, but we made very little. One day my grandmother’s friend made the decision to sell drugs. It was necessary to give us a roof, but when my mom found out she called from the USA and tried to make us leave. I told her to leave us alone. But my grandmother’s friend was arrested. There was no one in charge of us. We spent a month alone until an uncle came and took us in. I was 9 or 10 years old.
Things were a little better with my uncle, but he took the money that my mom sent us to drink alcohol and gave us nothing. My sisters and I were starving, but we couldn’t tell our mother because our uncle said that he would stop taking care of us if we did. The only good thing was that my little sister and I were still in school, and my older sister took care of us. It was around this time, too, that International Samaritan found us. They helped us have enough food to not starve, and paid for us to stay in school. My little sister and I were able to stay in school past 6th grade because of International Samaritan.
My uncle did not like that we would study. He told us that our obligation was to clean, wash his clothes, and make dinner, not to get good grades. He never congratulated us for doing well in school. He would get angry and drunk on weekends, too, so our neighbors never liked us – we would move often and would have to start in a new school and make new friends. I did not like it. Some of the kids would make fun of me and I became lonely. But I kept studying so my parents and International Samaritan would be proud of me.
There are still months that I do not have the money to eat. When I’m hungry, I think about how I’ll never go hungry in the future. I want to be a professional. I’m going to get good grades and be someone very important.
I’m studying Computers and Graphic Design. I like to study. I strive, day by day, and I have goals and dreams that, with the help of God, I will reach. With my discipline, effort, and responsibility, I will graduate from high school, study at the University, and get my career. I know I will get far. I will be successful and work to help others. International Samaritan came to my life in an inexplicable way, and they are helping me and supporting me in this path of success that has no end. I want to be the change in my family and be a person of change for Guatemala.
Greetings. I am Zoe. I am 10 years old and am a fourth grader in [REDACTED] Primary School. I live with 7 of my family members. Our house is always full of laughter and happiness. To an outsider, it would seem like we have everything in the world. I don’t think even the richest of people have the joy we have. We have what most households don’t have, which is love and unity. Everyone is concerned about everyone in our home. I feel blessed and loved to be part of my family.
My mother is the breadwinner in our family. She works in the nearby garbage dump, Kore, collecting recyclable materials to later sell. She can’t work elsewhere because she is a leper. I have offered to help her after school multiple times, but she says no every time, saying that it’s no place for children. But neither is it a place for adults. The tragedies of Kore are endless and I have heard so many scary stories about it. I worry that my mother will get sick or injured working there.
One of my chores at home is getting water from the common water source which is always so crowded. I often wait for hours and hours to get water, and that is if I somehow make it before the closing time. I then have to carry back a big container filled with water back home. I often have to make many stops as my hands get sore and I get out of breath. I really wish we had our own tap in our compound. That would be a dream come true.
I like Science and Mathematics subjects very much. When I grow up, I want to become a doctor. I would like to work on disease prevention, not just treatment, so I can help lepers like my mother and prevent more people from getting leprosy. I want to make a big difference in my country in the health arena. I am able to learn and am on the path of achieving my dreams because of the opportunities International Samaritan has given me, and for that, I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Mike at his old favorite job, taken in 1999. For me, that answer has always been easy. For a couple of seasons before law school, and two glorious seasons after it, I sold ice cream at the Joe Louis Arena for the Detroit Red Wings. I made about a hundred...
International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.