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Common Hope – Social Justice in Guatemala

Common Hope logoCommon Hope works to end the cycle of poverty in Guatemala through education, health care, housing and family development. First Parish has been connected with Common Hope for over a dozen years. Five Vision Teams (including many parent-teen teams) have travelled to Antigua for one week immersion experiences that involve service, education, sharing and reflection. Read what some of the past Vision Team members have to say about the experience below.

A few facts

  • Common Hope is an NGO that works in 27 communities throughout Guatemala and annually touches the lives of over 14,000 impoverished children and adults to partner in creating better lives for the families of Guatemala.
  • The Guatemalan national graduation rate from high school is 18.6%. Students who are part of the Common Hope program are graduating at 3-4 times the national graduation rate, enabling them to get into the formal job sector as students in Guatemala graduate high school with a professional degree. 
  • Common Hope relies on donations to support its programs and for individuals (and groups) to sponsor children to help them complete their education through high school.
  • A Vision Team spends a week on the Common Hope campus and participates in a variety of volunteer and cultural immersion activities including building a house for a Common Hope family, accompanying a social worker on home visits, preparing and teaching lessons for school children and learning about the beautiful Guatemalan traditions and culture.
  • First Parish provided sponsorship to Dulce Llanos for 10 years. She graduated high school and is attending nursing school. 

What’s happening now

  • Our sponsored child: Currently, our congregation provides support for one student, Jose Martinez. He is 17 years old and aspires to go to university and be an accountant. Jose, along with his parents, met with members of our 2020 and 2023 Vision Teams and expressed their deep appreciation for our support. 
  • Our next trip: We are aiming for February 2025 – as we hope to send teams every other year. Traditionally we have gone during the February winter vacation week (and the weather in Antigua is beautiful!)
  • As a “Faith Community Partner,” we hope to raise awareness of Common Hope and also do some fundraising to support our sponsored child and the Common Hope mission. Ideas include a Holiday craft market / Summer service / Special offering / integrating with existing activities and the RE curriculum. 

To learn more

  • Check out the Common Hope website
  • Talk with any of the folks at First Parish who have either participated on a Vision Team and/or have sponsored a child (names and contact info below)
  • Watch a 3-minute video that shares highlights of the 2023 First Parish Vision Team

Ways you can participate

What past participants are saying

“I thought I was going to go for a week of service, but I returned having gained far more than I gave. I have a much better understanding of the importance of education (along with healthcare and nutrition) and warm and caring relationships to build strong communities and break the cycle of poverty.”
~ Melinda

“A Vision Team to Guatemala was the perfect trip for us. We got to share a life changing experience while feeling like we had plenty of space from each other to create many of our own memories.”
~ Susan (53) and Emma (14)

First Parish contacts

The following individuals welcome your questions if you’d like to learn more about Common Hope and learn about ways you can participate.

  • Melinda Maryniuk
  • Anne Copeland
  • Steve Davis
  • Susan Larabee
  • Landon Rose

Have a question or comment? Please fill in this form and we’ll get back to you!