Health Talents International
Alotenango: A Place Called Hello
The word, hello, has many uses. Sometimes it is perfunctory, as when answering the phone, at other times it carries with it a message of welcome and gladness; and on occasion, it conveys the warmth and excitement of a holiday homecoming. The latter is what we experienced on December 6, 2018 beneath the shade of the volcano Agua and the specter of Fuego on the outskirts of Alotenango.
Originally known in the Mayan tongue as Cucuc Caquix or Siete Guacamayos, and sometimes translated the wall of the parrots or the seven parrots, Alotenango came under Spanish rule in the 1500’s. Since the suffix, “tenango,” means place of in Guatemala, and “¡Aló!” is the standard greeting when answering a phone call, Alotenango can be translated into, “the place of the hello,” or better to say, “the place called hello.”

We arrived before 9 AM, the 9 x 12 concrete pads had been poured days before and were ready for the next step, the assembly of two small houses and not so small blessings. Some of you are thinking, a 9 x 12 house qualifies for the HGTV Tiny House series, and that may be true. What you don’t realize is that this family is sacrificing valuable, income producing, coffee growing land. At least seventy trees were cut down, each tree yielding an average of ten pounds of berries per harvest, or $2.30 per tree... more than Moises would earn in a week. Size and value are relative, their joy and gratitude was real, unqualified and genuine!
Our construction crew was supervised by Cary and Rita Sills, US missionaries and long-time friends and volunteers with HTI. The Sills live near Antigua and work closely with Milcasas and their house building ministry. Luis Razon, our ABC Coordinator from the coast, Oscar Mejia, who works in our community development ministry and three teens from our ABC Program joined Robert Abston, our US accountant, me and other Guatemalan volunteers for this project.