Volunteer Spotlight: Sabeeka and Jasmine
Posted: July 18, 2017
In early June, Curamericas had the privilege and honor to work with two incredible, Fayetteville Academy students, Jasmine and Sabeeka. These students travelled to Guatemala to volunteer in our Casa Materna clinics and worked with a group of volunteers to assist the community in saving the lives of women and children.
Jasmine is rising senior at Fayetteville Academy. In the future, she hopes to work in the medical field and is currently considering her options in athletic training, physical therapy, or becoming an OB-GYN. Sabeeka is also a rising senior. She is very interested in analytical chemistry and food science and wants to major in chemistry in college.
What inspired you to travel with Curamericas?
Jasmine: I heard about this volunteer opportunity from my school around 3 years ago. As soon as I heard about it I knew I wanted to go, but I wasn’t old enough. I love volunteering, helping others, and I wanted to do something different. When I heard about this opportunity I thought, “Well this is definitely different.” How many people can say they went to another country to volunteer?
Sabeeka: My school has offered the Guatemala trip with Curamericas every year, so the first time I heard about it was in the 9th grade. The age restriction was 16, so I wasn’t old enough at the time. But when I heard about it this year, I immediately jumped at the chance to go.
What was your first impression of Guatemala?
Jasmine: When we first arrived in Guatemala, I immediately noticed differences from where I lived, but I enjoyed the differences. We stayed at a hotel alongside the water, and the view was amazing. Even when we were driving to different locations, the views were amazing.
Sabeeka: My family is from Pakistan, so honestly it was almost the same type of environment. It was interesting to be able to point out the similarities and differences of the two countries. It made me feel really excited for the week ahead of me.
What surprised you about this volunteer trip?
Jasmine: The one thing that surprised me was how nice everyone was. I can’t speak Spanish to save my life, but no matter what, everyone said hello and tried to start a conversation with me. I thought that was surprising because I was a foreigner going into someone else’s community, yet I was welcomed by everyone. Another thing that was surprising was how much people were in tune with their community. The community in Calhuitz all helped in some way to maintain the Casa Materna.
Sabeeka: I think the overall support from the community and the hospitality of the staff in Calhuitz surprised me. I didn’t imagine that these men and women would be so good at balancing work and play. The first couple of days consisted of a standard routine, and then once we had the soccer match, people began talking and joking with each other more. The staff in Calhuitz has given me memories that I won’t ever forget.
What did you think about the work Curamericas is doing?
Jasmine: Curamericas’ work helps people realize that they should be grateful for the things they have and it also taught us responsibility.
Sabeeka: I think Curamericas’ work is incredibly important, especially in a country like Guatemala. In this political turmoil, they at least have the support of the Casa Maternas and Curamericas to count on. I think without Curamericas, some of these cities wouldn’t even exist because the Casa Materna almost becomes the center of the city.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
Jasmine: Watching a birth was my favorite part of the trip. It’s amazing how different our birthing techniques are compared to theirs. There are different positions the mother chooses from to give birth. The families want to keep their traditions alive, so they opted not to go to the hospital to give birth, because the hospital limits the mother’s traditional birthing techniques.
Sabeeka: My favorite part, by far, was teaching kids in school. I was the only person on this trip that could speak Spanish, so I did my best to communicate when the others couldn’t. I was nervous at first, but I managed to get some words out. The look on those kids’ faces when they realized I could speak Spanish was hilarious. Being able to reach out, communicate, and teach those kids all at the same time made such an impact on my perspective.
How did this trip affect you?
Jasmine: This trip showed me no matter how challenging the obstacles are, I can help other people. Although there was a language barrier in Guatemala, I was still able to accomplish my tasks. This trip sparked my interest to study abroad, experience new cultures, and learn new languages. This experience also made me realize that the medical field is the right career path for me.
Sabeeka: This trip has reminded me to appreciate all the resources that I have in the States. It’s easy to get caught up in the materialistic aspect of our lives, but necessities as small as consistent water can be rare in other places.
What would you tell someone thinking about volunteering with Curamericas?
Jasmine: Just do it. It was an amazing trip from the views, to the culture, to learning Chuj (language), and experiencing various foods. It’s only been a week since I’ve gotten home, and I’m ready to return to the Casa Materna.
Sabeeka: I’d say, “Why not?” If you have the means and the drive; do it. Guatemala was such a great experience, so I think anyone that can go, should go. This trip also allowed me to experience things that I wouldn’t ever be able to in the states. I guess all that’s left to say is: Gracias por todo, Guatemala.
Article written by Sarah Clark, Events and Outreach Intern
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