Laura and Kate traveled to Guatemala this summer from Portola Valley, CA to join us for our 2014 Mother Daughter Trip. Below, they share their experiences getting to know the country, the culture, and the rural communities in which Mercado Global works.
In Laura's words:
My daughter and I just returned from one of the most rewarding and memorable trips of our lives: a mother-daughter insight trip to Guatemala with Mercado Global.
I had heard of Mercado Global because a group of mothers and daughters from our hometown had gone on this trip the year before. They raved about their experience, and about the organization itself. I eagerly signed up because I agree with and believe in the mission of Mercado Global and its ability to accomplish its goals through its business model. I wanted to be a part of empowering women and girls to achieve their dreams by obtaining an education and earning a fair wage. I also hoped that the experience would be eye-opening for my young daughter. I had some reservations because the girls on the prior trip were 12 and 13 years old, whereas my daughter and her friends are 9 and 10. Would they be up for this? Would they get it?
From the start, Mercado Global’s highly competent and engaged staff designed our experience with the kids’ young ages in mind. When we expressed interest in doing a fundraising project before the trip, they suggested raising money for a library to benefit the artisans' kids that spend time in their offices. It is an important need for them, and one that our kids could really understand and appreciate. They worked hard hosting bake sales and raffles in the weeks leading up to the trip. While in Guatemala, we visited a school and did several activities that provided an opportunity for the kids from both cultures to interact. Watching my daughter teach a little girl how to make a loom bracelet by pointing and smiling was an incredible experience.
My hopes that the trip would be meaningful to my daughter were surpassed, as I saw her take in and become a part of her surroundings in a way that would change her perspective and her life. However, it wasn’t just my daughter’s perspective that changed, but mine as well. In witnessing the success that Mercado Global is achieving, I saw evidence that one can make a difference. Compared to the children of the artisans in the newly-added cooperative that we visited, the children of long-time Mercado Global artisans were further along in school. All the children and young adults we met, in both communities, had big dreams of advancing their education and embracing a world of opportunity. One nineteen year-old girl told us that she planned to become a “great doctor,” not just any doctor, but a great one.
In 9-year-old Kate’s words:
I wanted to come because it feels good to help people and to interact with people of other cultures and help make opportunities for other people, like with the library project. Also it was a good opportunity to build bonds with kids in Guatemala, my friends I traveled with, and my mom.
The day after we got there, we met another mother-daughter team that was joining us from Washington, D.C. Over the course of the trip, all the moms and all the daughters became close friends.
One of my favorite memories was our visit to a community where I got to show the kids how to make loom bracelets. The kids had big smiles on their faces. It made me feel different, in a way I’ve never felt before. It was fun and interesting to communicate without sharing a language. Not only did the kids make the bracelets, but the moms jumped in too. We felt so comfortable together, that we started playing and kicking a ball together. I also really enjoyed playing soccer with the local kids at the first community that we visited. I loved zip-lining in the jungle above our hotel. I was really scared at first but felt good about overcoming my fears.
Another really fun thing was making tortillas at a restaurant in Panajachel, with the funny owner talking and teaching us how to make the tortillas while his daughters played the marimba. Another great memory was the last day at the Mercado Global offices. The artisans gave us hand sewn scrolls thanking us for raising money for the library project. And I want to give a thanks to Mercado Global for organizing the trip and taking such good care of us. Thank you!