Sunday, May 15, 2016: We're excited. We're ready
Siete quetzales por quince huevos! Siete quetzales! Quince huevos! I woke up on our second day in Guatemala to the sound of a egg vendor rolling a cart down the street at 6 AM, trying to sell as many eggs as he could before breakfast. Our day started a little later than his; the Humanity First team was awake and refreshed by 9AM, and we met for breakfast at 9:30. We had a delicious meal of tamales con pollo and scrambled eggs (maybe purchased from the early-rising egg vendor). At breakfast, we met Dr. Mahmood Rana, who specializes in internal medicine and neurology and is the Humanity First medical lead for the trip. We discussed the plan for the day: we would leave soon to explore El Centro de Antigua (downtown Antigua), visit the main plaza, explore ancient churches and ruins, shop for souvenirs, and try the famous Guatemalan coffee.
Today was a day of cultural exploration and immersion. On the drive to downtown, we soaked in the beautiful scenery: a cobblestone road lined with pastel colored buildings on either side, leading, it seemed, to the towering silhouette of Agua, one of the many volcanoes in and around Antigua. Upon arriving in downtown, we met our tour guide for the day, Jerson. He enthusiastically gave us a quick history lesson: the city that is now called Antigua Guatemala (Old Guatemala) used to be the main metropolis in the area, but a series of earthquakes drove its inhabitants to move to the city that is today called Guatemala City. As a result, many of the buildings we were seeing in and around the plaza were recently restored or were ruins of old buildings that citizens of Antigua Guatemala couldn't carry to the new city. After the brief history lesson, we proceeded on to exploring the city. We explored different sites and took myriad selfies and group pictures with the exposed-brick and stucco ruins and Agua volcano in the background.
After a satisfying and much needed lunch break at San Martin, we resumed our tour of the city. We visited a jade museum and jewelry shop called Jade Maya, where a gentleman named Balda passionately discussed the significance of jade in Guatemala. We then visited a market called El Mercadito Artesenias (The Little Market of Artisans). Here, we not only had the opportunity to purchase more beautiful handmade souvenirs, but we also worked on simultaneously honing our Spanish skills and bargaining skills. Cuanto cuesta? 200 quetzales? Puedo pagar solo 100 quetzales. After an hour and a half of exhausting but immensely rewarding bargaining, we left the mercadito to go Barista, a coffee shop. There, we tried the delicious and rejuvenating Guatemalan coffee, and, as the millennials we are, took dozens more selfies.
After a wonderful, educational, and tremendously enjoyable day of exploration, we returned to our house to get ready for the next day. We practiced taking vital signs using the techniques we learned on Saturday, and had dinner from Pollo Campero. Tomorrow, we begin the work the work we came to Guatemala for. Tomorrow, we begin to touch the lives of hundreds of patients. Tomorrow, we will wake at 5:30 AM in order to set up before clinic opens. We're rested. We're excited. We're ready.
- Anjay Batra, Humanity First student volunteer
Humanity First is registered in 43 countries across 6 continents, and has been working on human development projects and responding to disasters since 1994. These have included the earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Iran, floods in Africa and Latin America, hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) , tornado's (Kansas) and wild fires (California) in the USA, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and conflicts in Eastern Europe.
Since its inception and IRS registration in 2004, Humanity First has been focused on spending most of the raised funds on direct program related expenses. As a result, more than 90% of its funds are in that expense category. This is achieved through dedicated volunteers in its management, and program operation teams.