Extraordinary - The Village of San Sebastian Beleju

Caregiver Erin Murillo traveled to Guatemala with a volunteer team in July 2019. She and the team spent four months preparing for this week long trip and on the first day in the village of San Sebastian Beleju, she could only describe her experience as extraordinary.

“We gained thousands of feet of elevation on dirt roads that were barely wide enough for our bus - much less the trucks filled with children, motorcycles zipping past, and bigger buses trying to help folks get on their way. The views were something I never imagined they would be - it was a breathtaking scene of lush green, crystal blue skies, and specks of home sites tucked into the mountainside,” reminisced Murillo about their journey to the village.

As our volunteers arrived in San Sebastián, they were greeted with thank you signs, hugs, fireworks, balloons, flowers and a grand welcoming ceremony to celebrate the coming together of communities.

“The ceremony was a time for the people of San Sebastián to thank us for our generosity and welcome us into their homes. We laughed, we cried, and then we danced with our newfound friends.”

Although they spent the afternoon hard at work, building latrines, Murillo could only talk about the connections and relationships that were made with the families that she was working with and the mutual goal of life and community changing impacts. She speaks of the instant connection, seamless teamwork and dynamic, and the “overwhelming sense of gratitude [from both the families and volunteers].”

Murillo, along with all the other volunteers, have expressed their love and gratitude for these families opening up their homes and praying for a team they’ve only known for a week. Their work to build a stronger health infrastructure and improve living conditions for the people of San Sebastián was important and impactful, but not as the impactful as the love and selflessness that was shared between strangers.

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