EHF Goes To Guatemala
Sometimes, eye-opening experiences happen in the weirdest places. Not too long ago, we received a phone call in our office from Freddie Ravel, an amazing keyboard player whom we had played with at the Cinco De Mayo concert previously. He said he wanted Sheila E. to perform in Guatemala at a benefit dinner and concert for an organization called the Rose Education Foundation (REF).
The next day, Scott Laverson, Executive Director of the organization, called us to follow up. In the first few minutes of talking with Scott, I realized I was having a conversation with sunshine. He was so pleasant and upbeat about the organization and its successes.
He went on to explain about the Rose Education Foundation, founded by Nedra Roney in 1996, and its endeavor to raise money to build schools in the most impoverished villages of Guatemala. He further explained that they were organizing a fundraiser and benefit dinner in Guatemala and requested that Sheila E. become the special guest performer for the evening and afterwards, tour the school and meet the students. With our own passion for helping children, we couldn't say YES fast enough!
While in flight, Scott shared more information about REF and its accomplishments so far. We saw video footage of the children, their teachers and the director of the school. Four and a half hours later, we arrived in Guatemala, greeted by an amazing downpour of rain that welcomed us in full grandeur as we deplaned. The school's director and the administration coordinator greeted us as we entered the waiting area.
We were led to the ground transportation area to load into our awaiting vehicle. As we waited for the driver to finish putting our bags in our vehicle, a young man came to the van asking us for money. His face and overall appearance was that of someone who had been living in the streets all his life. One of the members of our party gave him a dollar. Once this happened, a woman appeared with her children asking for the same. It was as if they had radar. One after another, more appeared. This was to be a preview and wake-up call of the reality of the great need in this country.
We arrived at our hotel, El Quinta of Guatemala, where we were welcomed and made to feel like royalty. During the event, the first order of business was a presentation of the three schools in Patzicia, Chimaltenago, and Momostenago with more than 1,200 students in attendance. We were told about the importance of building facilities for education in these areas, as the alternative was, without a facility to acquire this knowledge, the children would be forced to work in order that their family could make ends meet.
After the presentation, Sheila and her father, Pete "Pops" Escovedo gave a riveting performance, as guests danced the night away and celebrated the contributions of the attendees that ultimately were responsible for the additional monies raised for the Rose Education Fund and these deserving children.
The next morning, we drove to the site of one of the facilities in Patzicia. After being at such a nice place the night before, it seemed that this trip took us back in time 200 years. We rode on dirt streets with no grass in sight for miles. Donkeys and mules lined the streets carrying supplies for families. Some roads were lined with unsupervised children playing on graveled pavements with garbage and or twigs from nearby dead trees. We watched in utter amazement.
After an hour drive, we arrived at the school. The children, most in school uniforms, some in native colorful garments, waited patiently for our arrival and once seated, presented us with a heartfelt musical assembly. Songs were sung in over four different languages. We took pictures with the students and toured the remainder of the facility. We saw where and how the children were taught the fundamental curriculums as well as agriculture, the arts, and even learned to and made their own recycled paper. It was unbelievable what these children were creating with their passionate desire to learn. Necessity is surely the mother of invention.
With the help of people like Nedra Roney, her director, Scott Laverson and their supporters, these three schools are available to the local villager's children. REF sends US volunteers into Guatemala each year to teach English, as well as other extracurricular activities. But this is only the beginning. Their goal is to build an appropriate facility in the town of Patzicia that will cater to almost 2,000 students. The land is purchased and it is time to build! A very attainable $500,000 is needed to complete the building of this state-of-the-art school. REF is clearly approaching their goal to promote, support, and establish education opportunities for underprivileged children.
It is our pleasure to support the Rose Education Foundation as we saw firsthand of what the fruits of blessing these children can bear. Elevate Hope Foundation has since donated more than 25 percussion instruments to increase their music program. It was evident from their assembly that music was a large part of their education process, and it's our desire to assist them in that area. As our plight is to assist the needs of abused and neglected children, we realize the social rejection and economic abuse these families experience every day of their lives. In fact, lack of education is one of humanities greatest abuses.
Please join us as we do our small part in assisting the Rose Education Foundation by giving ourselves to deserving children around the world.
Sheila E. and Lynn Mabry