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Call in-depth

The Kirkwood Call | Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 | Volume 96 | Issue 1

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Tom Florent traveled to Guatemala with his youth group and volunteered at the Malnourished Infant Center, where he met this child. Photo courtesy of Tom Florent.

hirty-nine people. One week. Antigua, Guatemala. Tom Florent spent the first week of June working with his fellow youth group members from his church, Emanuel Episcopal Church, to help people living in poverty in Guatemala. For the first three days, the group built eight houses, each with enough room to fit six people. The group worked with an organization called The God’s Child Project, which is based in Guatemala. “We built a house with one of [The God’s Child Project’s] workers,” Florent said. “It was about sixteen by nine feet and had a concrete floor, roof and locking door.” Florent said the concrete floor was a big deal because many children in Guatemala fall ill due to insects and diseases which thrive among dirt floors. The area in which the houses were built was in a poverty-stricken part of the city. Flo-

rent said The God’s Child Project is trying to rid the city of poverty. “It was really eye-opening,” Florent said. “[The poverty] wasn’t necessarily hard to experience because we were there to help these people.” Then, they worked at the headquarters of The God’s Child Project located in downtown Antigua. There, they did a clothing drop in a nearby city where they distributed four pieces of clothing to each family waiting in line. After that, they had a vegetable drop, where farmers who do not deem their vegetables fit to be sold in stores sold them to The God’s Child Project for a lower price. Then, the group distributed the food to families in need. Florent said his strongest memory from the trip was when he did the hardest thing in his life on the campus of the Dreamer Center at their Malnourished Infant Center. Here, they keep about 20 malnourished infants and

p.9 www.thekirkwoodcall.com nurse them back to health. Florent said the infants’ parents feed them coffee beans which have no nutritional value. “We did have to feed them,” Florent said. “The hardest thing I’ve ever done is having to force formula down a baby’s mouth. It’s a hard thing to go through.” Florent’s happy memory from the Malnourished Infant Center was with a one of the babies he was holding. (Pictured left). “I held a four-month, five-pound baby and he was smiling,” Florent said. “When I was holding him he couldn’t stop smiling. He was so bright.” Florent left his life-changing experience in Guatemala after a week. Florent said he was put in his place after seeing how those in poverty live. “If you get the chance do it in a heartbeat because it’s so rewarding,” Florent said. “It’s something you’ll carry with you the rest of your life.”

On a mission to help the world Bridget Randazzo in-depth editor Nala Turner artist

The summer of 2013 held new experiences for KHS students who went on mission trips. The Call interviewed Tom Florent, sophomore, who went to Guatemala, and Zoe Martin, senior, who traveled to Colorado.

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n the mountains of Alamosa, Colorado, Zoe Martin spent a week devoted to helping not only people, but animals as well. Martin took part in the 2013 Work Camp her church, First Presbyterian Church, offers. The group helped the San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society, a dog shelter, in the mountains. Martin said this organization takes in stray dogs and works with PetSmart to find them homes. The students fed, walked and played with the dogs, and also organized their storage buildings and cleaned the cages. Martin said San Luis Valley Welfare Society’s help was much needed. "There were 80 dogs and only four employees," Martin said. “I felt bad for the

people who owned the shelter and the dogs because they couldn’t afford it. [For example], they could only afford water for the dogs to drink. They didn’t have enough to give them baths.” Martin said their work day began when the group left the church at 9 a.m. and returned at 5 in the evening. When the group returned to the church where they were staying, they got the nights to themselves. Martin said the River of Life Church where they stayed accompanied everyone’s needs. There were basketball courts, rooms to sit and chat and areas for the Cross Country runners to run. Martin said the group had a spiritual

time where they reflected on the day and their faith. “Focusing on just my faith alone was something I needed to do,” Martin said. “Working on my faith and strengthening it was definitely the part I enjoyed the most.” When Martin arrived in Alamosa, she planned on devoting her time to others; however, Martin said her favorite part turned out to be strengthening her own. “[Work Camp] helped me better appreciate the things in my life,” Martin said. “It also made me feel great by helping others, and by helping others it helped my faith grow.”

Zoe Martin traveled to Colorado with Work Camp, where she volunteered at the San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society. Photo courtesy of Zoe Martin.


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