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Sunday, May 22, 2016: Sun-kissed, volcano-riddled Guatemala

My last day in Guatemala begins at 4:15 am and before noon the plane is set to take off. I peer out over this sun-kissed, volcano-riddled sliver of Guatemala one last time. In The Office finale, Andy Bernard says, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them”, and I feel a longing ache in my heart even before the plane’s engines start. Even as I write this in my home in Houston, I haven’t fully left Guatemala.

When you take 20 students who only know just enough Spanish to say, “Hi, how are you?” and toss them in a foreign country with 2200+ locals waiting for medical care, you would expect them to struggle, right? Wrong. I couldn’t have asked for a better team than this. We didn’t just survive the heat and sheer number of patients; we had fun.

We take many things for granted, but we never really realize that until we meet someone who has to travel for five hours and wait in the searing sun for six hours before they can see a doctor and receive a 10-pack of Ibuprofen. It’s not only our privilege to help those less fortunate than us, but it’s our responsibility.

I met some inspirational people on this trip—my fellow volunteers, the talented doctors, the grateful mayor of Masagua who thanked each volunteer personally, and those who toiled to make this opportunity possible, all working together and setting aside their own well-being to help strangers in a foreign country.

I leave Guatemala with memories and experiences I am never going to forget, and for that I am thankful. I leave Guatemala only because I already have a return ticket to Houston.

Thank you University of Houston, thank you Humanity First, and thank you Guatemala.

Until next time.

-Revanth Vadlamudi, Humanity First student volunteer

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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.

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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.

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