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March 4th, 2017: Guatemala's Beauty

This morning, we woke up and traveled to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world: Lake Atitlán.

Today was our first day after clinics ended and the conversations on our 3-hour ride to the lake centered around how much we all already missed the clinics and interacting with patients. When most of the doctors left last night, our house seemed quieter and emptier, like a piece of us was missing. As we were leaving to travel to the lake, we also said our final goodbyes to Dr. Malik, whose compassion, intelligence, and dedication helped shape our week.

Despite having many second and third-timers on this trip, this was the first time any of us had been to the lake. Once we arrived, we were awe-struck by the scenery that encompassed us. The beauty of Lake Atitlán cannot be put into words. Everywhere we turned, we were surrounded by forest-covered mountains, volcanoes, and deep blue waters.

We rode a boat across the water to arrive to the villages surrounding the lake and learned about the Mayan culture that influences them. We went on a weaving tour, where we learned about how cotton is grown and is then used to make clothing and fabric. Learning about the process was eye-opening because we discovered all of the hard work and time that goes into making a simple article of clothing. We then went on a chocolate tour where we learned about each step in the chocolate-making process.

After the tour, we returned to the boat and enjoyed our time on the lake. Once we arrived to a relatively shallow area, we were able to jump off the boat into the water and swim for a bit.

Enjoying the beauty of the Guatemala was the perfect end to our week. Reflecting on the past week of clinic, this country has taught us all so much. The people of Guatemala are kind, generous, happy, and have shown us an immense amount of love during our time here. No matter the time of day or where we were, we were always met with a warm smile.

Lillie Ross, one of the volunteers on the trip, said, "It was my second time in Guatemala and I absolutely love interacting with the patients and seeing them smile. It was also so inspirational to see the hospital being built, and I definitely want to come back in the future.”

Another volunteer, Kelly Hong, said, “It was my first time coming to Guatemala and I was really amazed at how happy all the patients were at the clinic. I’ve learned a lot on this trip, not just about the medical aspect, but getting to learn about another culture and interacting with new people.”

This was my second trip with Humanity First, and I know that I will take all that I have learned back home with me. I will be forever grateful for all that this country has taught me—about the people, the culture, and myself. Guatemala holds a very special place in my heart and I hope to return someday.

- Danya Ziazadeh

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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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