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Community working on Tatamagouche-Guatemala partnership

Hannah Martin made many new friends while working as an intern at a school in Rabinal, Guatemala.
Hannah Martin made many new friends while working as an intern at a school in Rabinal, Guatemala.

TATAMAGOUCHE, N.S. – Anne MacDonald Martin called her two weeks in Guatemala “the most powerful thing I ever experienced.”

She and her husband visited the country while their daughter, Hannah Martin, was there for a summer internship and the entire family is now working toward a partnership between schools in Tatamagouche and the Escuela Nueva Esperanza (New Hope Foundation School) in Rabinal, Guatemala.

“I feel there is so much we can learn from one another,” said Anne. “The place profoundly affected those who went.

“In a way, it’s like stepping back in time, and seemed peaceful and beautiful. The people’s appreciation of each other is so evident community spirit is so strong.”

She said knowing the history of the area, with massacres taking place during the 1980s, made the experience more profound.

Hannah, a McMaster University student, was able to work as an intern in Central America because of the support provided by a Loran Scholarship. This scholarship is presented to 30 students across the country each year and is based on service, leadership and character. Students take part in internships in enterprise, public policy, and personal and community development.

“It was a great experience for Hannah,” said Anne. “She did a lot of soul searching and growing while she was there. She stayed with the director of New Hope School and experienced life in that community.”

Hannah spent two weeks with groups that partner with Breaking the Silence, an organization that supports human rights, and 10 weeks helping to run programs at the school.

When she returned to Canada she shared her experiences by visiting schools and taking part in a community evening.

This winter a meeting was held to discuss forming a relationship with schools in Tatamagouche and Rabinal. People have now joined to raise funds that will allow the director of New Hope Foundation School, and one or two graduates, to visit Nova Scotia in June.

One fundraising initiative is a raffle on a basket filled with items representing both villages. A music night at the high school is being planned for May 4 and an account at Scotiabank has been set up for anyone wanting to make donations.

Anne said next year they’d like to send a student, parent and teacher to Rabinal.

A section of Hannah Martin’s blog post from Rabinal:

Although there are many days where I feel like giving up – while learning to live in another world, so different from my own, and learning a new language – I have found so many hidden blessings. Whether it is listening to the power of the traditional drum and flute while I fall asleep at night, feeling the rain on my face after two dry weeks in Rabinals 30 degree weather, or making tortillas in the kitchen while listening to women speak Maya Achi, who stand so tall and proud of their Indigenity, I feel so indescribably fulfilled.

Her posts can be found online at https://nipneskwejjournal.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/road-to-rabinal/

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