Campos de Sueños In Santa Maria de Jesus

Volunteer in Antigua Guatemala

For anyone who’s spent even a relatively short amount of time in Antigua Guatemala, it’s hard not to notice that large swaths of the population aren’t living under the best of conditions. The day-to-day realities of the indigenous Maya population become even more noticeable when you venture out to the rural communities outside of Antigua’s touristy bubble.

For some weeks now, my wife and daughter have volunteered to help at a newly opened community feeding center in Santa Maria de Jesus, which is staffed and sponsored by Iglesia del Camino, the local bilingual church we visit on Sundays.

I made this video to showcase the program, which has been well-received:

My wife had begged me for some time to go visit with her. Every time she visits Campos de Sueños – the name of the community center which literally translates to “fields of dreams” – she would come home with another heartwarming story about the Maya children that the center was built to feed. I took a break from my busy schedule yesterday and headed out there to document the visit.

waiting for children to arrive at Campos de Suenos

Waiting for children to arrive at Campos de Suenos

Santa Maria de Jesus is about 20 minutes from Antigua and it’s the highest community along the slopes of Agua Volcano and serves as a jumping off point for excursions to Agua’s summit. Residents live off farming the land. Campos de Sueños is located right on the outskirts of town and its goal is to feed 500 local children every weekly, in every session.

Small church in Santa Maria de Jesus

Small church in Santa Maria de Jesus

cornfields in Santa maria de jesus

Cornfields in Santa Maria de Jesus

My wife was right. The children were incredibly friendly and most were quick to open up to me, even though most had never seen me five minutes before meeting them. Some had a natural spark to them and couldn’t wait for me to make eye contact and offer me a warm smile. Others were shy and their eyes communicated a sadness that was palpable.

I spent most of the time sitting down next to them and engaging in conversation. The girls taught me their favorite pattycake games while the boys showed me their favorite secret handshakes (I learned the “milk-the-cow” handshake, which I’ll show you when we meet in Guatemala).

I was also struck by how close family members were. Brothers always watched after their younger siblings and girls carried on their back, with great effort, as they looked after them and made sure the young ones ate all their food. To be a brother’s keeper was not something they did begrudgingly or took lightly. I really admire them for their dedication.

(Click Any Pic for Full-Screen Slideshow)

After taking each picture, I would show it to them on the camera, which made them shriek with delight. Pretty soon, they were calling me from every table asking me to take their picture.

After sharing the picture-taking experience with a staff member, she told me the following story:

A volunteer group arrived a few months back with a Polaroid camera and had given the children copies of their pictures. Fast forward a few months later, when one of the same children was gathering firewood for the family in a remote lot. The person watching over the property, in their attempt to discourage trespassers, shot and killed the child. At the child’s funeral, as witnessed by staff members from the center who attended the wake, prominently displayed was the Polaroid picture that the child had received a few weeks back. It was the only picture that the parents had of her.

That story touched me, because, in this era of over-sharing and Instagramming selfies, there are people in this world for whom having a picture of themselves is a luxury and for some, a treasured possession. Which is why I plan to print some of these to distribute to the children and go back to take some more pics. It’s the least I can do.

It’s been my experience that when one volunteer to give back, the one doing the volunteering often gets back the same, or more, than the person on the receiving end. Always.

Check out the Campos de Suenos Facebook Fan Page and spread the word about the project. If you’re interested in donating time and/or money – tax-deductible by the way, check out their official website.

Antigua Guatemala Blog – Travel and Lifestyle Guide

Antigua Guatemala in Color - Mercado

Looking for information about visiting and living in Antigua Guatemala? You’ve come to the right place!

Welcome to OkAntigua, a project I started more than six years ago as a place to document my journey from full-time US resident to explorer and traveler of the American continent. At first, my plans were to make a brief stop in Guatemala. But the country won me over, and I decided to stick around a little longer.

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Check out my Antigua Guatemala blog!

Eventually, I started blogging about life in Antigua Guatemala. And what a beautiful place it is! So much so that I’ve put my plans to travel the world on hold for the time being, while I explore everything Central America has to offer. I’ve come to know many interesting people seeking information about Antigua and Guatemala in general as a place to visit and as a place to live, both short and long-term.

All the information I’ve written – and a lot more – has been published in an electronic book, “Living in Antigua Guatemala“.

If you’re more interested in visiting Antigua and knowing more about its traditions, history, culture and fun things to do here, take a look at my extensive travel guide, updated with the latest restaurant information for 2017: “Antigua Guatemala Travel Guide 2017.

To help you get the most out of this site, I’ve arranged the most popular posts below to help you get answers to your most pressing questions about Antigua. I know that seeing is believing, so I’ve also included lots of pictures to give you a sense of Antigua and its people. It’s the site I wished had been available two years ago when I was planning to move here.

I hope you enjoy the site and that you find it helpful!

Photos of Antigua Guatemala

Farmers Market in Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala’s Mercado

Colorful Fruits and Vegetables of Guatemala

Interesting Doors of Antigua

Beautiful Walls of Antigua

Patron Saint Festivals in Antigua

Living Next to Volcan Fuego

The Prettiest Church in Antigua Guatemala (featured in a local magazine) 

Busker of Antigua

Maya Women in Antigua 

Children’s Processions  – Holy Week

New Year’s Celebrations in Antigua Guatemala (with video)

Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala Part 1

Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala Part 2

Tour of Antigua Guatemala’s Mercado

Living in Antigua

Parque Central, Antigua Guatemala

Fountain of the Sirens

25 Lessons Learned Living in Antigua Guatemala

7 Reasons Why Antigua Guatemala is Heaven for Expats

The Cost of Real Estate in Antigua Guatemala

How to Find the Right Community to Live in Antigua Guatemala

How to Avoid Getting Lost in Antigua

Cost of Living in Antigua Part 1

Cost of Living in Antigua Part 2

Getting Around Using Chicken Buses

How to Bank in Antigua Guatemala

Strategies for Renting Like a Local in Antigua Guatemala

How to Extend Your Foreign Vehicle’s Import Permit

How to Secure Internet Access in Antigua Guatemala

Retiring in Antigua

Pensionado Paperwork in Antigua

Renewing Your Tourist Visa in Antigua

How to Make an Inexpensive Visa Run to Mexico from Antigua

How to Renew Your Tourist Visa Without Leaving Guatemala

Things to Do in Antigua

Cerro de la Cruz Antigua Guatemala

Cerro de la Cruz

Our Top Ten List of Things To Do in Antigua Guatemala

Attending Patron Saint Festivals Around Antigua

Staying Fit and Running in Antigua

Attend Special Activities with Your Dog

Have Lunch with a View at Earth Lodge Antigua

Get a Magnificent View of Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz

Visit an Incredible Art Museum in Santo Domingo del Cerro

Hope you find a lot of useful information here. Stick around; there’s more to come. Sign up for my non-spammy newsletter and don’t miss a thing.

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