BREWSTER – Five area residents have returned from Guatemala with memories to last a life time.
The women, Carrie Riordan of Mahopac Falls, retired Carmel educator Carol Fisher, Kate Legeret and Maureen Guido, both of Carmel, and Sandy Sola of Pawling told their story Sunday at a worship service at the First Baptist Church of Brewster.
Church Pastor Travis Mitchell and parishioner Craig Brandt of Carmel last year visited Guatemala to begin a relationship with a Christian ministry called Kids Alive International. The organization provides homes around the world to make available emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health to young boys and girls who have experienced abuse. The group also helps to seek justice for young girls by working with authorities to bring their abusers to court.
Pastor Mitchell commended the five women: (L-R) Sandy Sola, Kate Legeret, Carrie Riordan (not pictured),
Maureen Guido and Carol Fischer
During the visit to Central America the pair met with officials of the Oasis Residential Home, a community of family-style residences for girls who reside in family units with Guatemalan Christian house parents.
“The children attend school, many for the first time, and have access to trauma-focused therapy to help heal their emotional wounds. Most importantly, the children are introduced to the transforming love of Jesus, the source of true healing that they desperately need,” said Pastor Travis.
The church decided to continue fostering its relationship with the ministry and after raising funds last Christmas sent its own mission team consisting of the five women.
Sola, who is employed as a victim’s advocate with the Putnam Women’s Resource Center in Mahopac, explained that “serving victims of sexual assault was her passion.”
“It was a blessing to be with and share with the girls. We even taught them English,” Sola told more than 125 congregants in attendance on Sunday. When they returned to the US, “we all realized that Americans experience such a comfortable life here. To sponsor a child in Guatemala is a great blessing.”
Guido, one of the original volunteers with the Carmel Volunteer Ambulance Corps, noted that “volunteers were desperately needed. My passion has always been to assist others in need. The children were so happy to see us. It was a blessing to be there.”
Legeret agreed that the volunteer effort was a life-changer. “Our presence made the girls so happy and we gained much in return.”
“Intense,” is how Young, who speaks fluent Spanish, described the poverty in Guatemala. “The girls were so loving and caring and appreciative. We even played Scrabble with them. I never played Scrabble in Spanish before!”
Brandt called the women a “blessing. A holy spirit is stirring in them to assist the love and passion in the young victimized girls.”
Pastor Travis explained the congregation’s journey resulted in a “local perspective to a global perspective. We want to help the victims of child abuse in Guatemala by showing a heart of compassion through a heart of justice.”
Travis asked the community to “show humanity’s true nature by raising funds for children in Guatemala to give them hope. The Book of Proverbs tells us, ‘Teach children how they should live and they will remember it all their lives’.”