Coyolate is a small rural community located between Guatemala City and the Mexico border. It is home to many young families who work as farmers in the sugar cane fields that surround them. The culture is rich and the people are some of the most friendly and thankful people you may encounter. Many families live in single bedroom homes and put their children to sleep on the dirt floor in 80 degree heat on a nightly basis. Many of these families had been displaced due to the civil war that ended in 1996. For this reason, you will find a beautiful mix of different indigenous cultures all in one place. The need is great, and the people are hardworking and ready for change. Unlike the major cities in Guatemala, healthcare is not easily accessible, nor affordable for many who live here.
Earlier this month, I was able to travel with a team to Coyolate for the first time this year. It was a medical team of doctors, dentists, and a group that was dedicated to assisting locals in laying the foundation for their new community center. I particularly helped facilitate the dental clinic which gave me much time to get to know families as they waited their turn. What I found was a people that was eager to learn how to better themselves through good dental hygiene, but have just not had the opportunity in the past. Have you ever had that feeling? The one where you ask yourself, “If I just knew how to do this, I could better my life!”. Here's the difference between our thought and theirs. We have access to learning. We have the ability to hop online and google “How to take better care of my teeth”. In a country were internet access is limited, and books cost more than a monthly salary, many people in Coyolate rely on the gratitude of others to bring education.
It must start somewhere. We are blessed to be a part of that start not just in the realm of dental care, but also in every area that can empower the amazing people of Coyolate to bring a lasting change in their own lives, the lives of their children, and the lives of neighbors and friends. This is what excites us about the community center project that has began. It is going to be an attractive place for locals to come and grow in knowledge and community. It is a place that will one day be led by locals, to help bring change to locals. We are so excited to join together with the people of Coyolate to make this happen, and look forward to all the time we will have with them in the coming months.