I had the amazing opportunity to visit some of Food for the Hungry’s (FH) communities this June in the beautiful country of Guatemala. The people I met knew the power of dreams.
While standing on the dirt floor of the community center of Santa Catalina where FH has been working for six years, our team observed a Women’s Savings Group meeting. Savings Groups provide a chance for community members to save, borrow and invest money in areas inspiring little trust of traditional financial institutions. These groups allow women to borrow money from other women in the community to invest in businesses or other activities to better care for their families.
As we heard about the function of the Savings Group, one of our team asked, “Tell us about your dreams.”
What a great question.
It Reminded Me of Martin Luther King, Jr.
It reminded me of the famous 1963 speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. As he prepared to speak to 250,000 people at the Washington D.C. Civil Rights March, he worked on his speech up to the last second. He started addressing segregation, discrimination and what he called “a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” He said these issues left the African-American community outside of a system the country had promised them access to.
Singer Mahalia Jackson was on the platform with King. After 11 minutes, she couldn’t take it anymore. She said, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” King continued with his prepared remarks. Once more she said, “Tell them about the dream.”
Facing the most important speech of his life, King set his script aside and declared to the crowd, “I have a dream.” This speech became a catalyst for change that is still felt today, helping to move African-Americans out of the poverty of oppression in the United States.
Dreams in Guatemala
Like Martin Luther King, people I saw in Guatemala had a dream for a better tomorrow.
In the community center of Santa Catalina, silence and darting glances met our request to hear the dreams of the Savings Group members. I wasn’t sure if we would get an answer. Then one brave soul showed us her red book, which all the women used to track their transactions and progress in the group. She turned to the page where she recorded what she wanted to get out of the Savings Group. Since she couldn’t write, she drew a picture of a chicken coop.
This woman’s dream was to raise chickens, not only to help feed her family, but to have chickens and eggs to sell at the market. This small business was her dream to help move her family out of the cycle of poverty.
The woman next to her spoke up. Her dream was to have a house of her own where she could help build a better future for her family.
They have a dream.
We heard other’s dreams throughout our stay. Dreams of water filters and the reduction of crime within the community of Chimox.
A father in Panquiyou, who is encouraging his community to partner with FH, dreams of helping the next generation by sending his daughters to middle school and high school.
I knew these were not pie-in-the-sky dreams. These dreams are going to come true. I could tell this for two reasons. First, we serve a big God who can bring lifelong change to our lives. Second, when these people shared their dreams, their faces lit up and their eyes widened as they described the change these dreams could bring. Though I saw much joy in the communities we visited, nothing compared to the excitement I felt when individuals shared their dreams.
People bring about change in their lives because they catch a vision of how the future could be. The dreams I heard will bring about change not only for the dreamers themselves, but for their families and their communities. Who knows? If God sees fit, these dreams, like Martin Luther King’s dream, may even change the entire country of Guatemala.
You Can Make Dreams Come True
When you help to support Food for the Hungry programs, you bring hope and dreams to individuals, families, communities and entire countries. Here are a few ways you could help.
Chicken Coop – $37
Through daily eggs, a coop of chickens will provide a sustainable protein source, which can significantly improve the nutrition of vulnerable families. Families will be provided with chickens and the materials for a starter coop. Since they’re easy to raise and multiply quickly, families can earn an additional income by selling eggs or chicks in the market.
Water Filter – $68
A Sawyer Point One Water Filter removes 99.9 percent of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E. coli, as well as all protozoa. When a family has access to clean water sources, their health dramatically improves.
This post was written by Gerald Thomson, a supervisor in FH’s Customer Service Center. His writing has been seen in Phoenix New Times, Stage Directions, and various theater blogs. He is the author of Word Selfies, a collection of humorous essays. Gerald and his wife, Julia, live in Phoenix, AZ.