November, 2018
Health Talents International News
"What do you want to do when you grow up?" Dream big is something we encourage our children to do. Thanks to Health Talents the children of rural Guatemala have a chance to dream big and see those dreams become reality through our scholarship programs. Check out this video for more information and follow the link below to give and help another student receive higher education.
Graduation Day
by Rick Harper
My uncle Vuin never learned to read or write, yet, his son and two daughters all graduated from high school and went on to college. My Mississippi, son of a sharecropper father, quit high school a few weeks before graduation to join the marines and obtained his GED while in the service. Yet all six of his children went on to university with several obtaining Masters’ degrees…and his grandchildren progressed even further with one a Doctor of Jurisprudence.

There was a period in my family’s history, and much of the US, when friends and relatives only hoped you’d finish high school. Eventually that became an expectation and then a foregone conclusion. Now we still celebrate all graduation events, kindergarten, elementary school, high school, university and US Marine boot camp, with all the excitement and pride a family can muster, it just may not carry the same luster as in days gone by. Not so in Guatemala!

Graduation expectations are still uncommon for most children in Guatemala, including many of the children in our ABC Program. Elementary or primary school, yes, high school, not likely. When your parents only have a third or fourth grade education, it is often difficult to envision something so grand as a high school graduation, much less a university degree.

Manuel Quino, a young Christian from the community of Xepocol is part of a new tradition and raised expectations. It began when church leaders from the Xepocol Church of Christ embraced participation in our ABC Program and later, our scholarship programs. (Bates, Bennie/McDonnel/Strawther and Sherman.) Tomas Chan was the first high school graduate and is now a teacher. He was followed by others including Noe Chan who received a degree in physical therapy and is part of our full-time ministry team. 

Today, Manuel is a licensed nurse and proud graduate of our Bennie/McDonnel/Strawther scholarship program!

Manuel learned perseverance and determination from his parents. When their family left the faith tradition of their grandparents: were baptized and became part of the Xepocol church family, his mother was beaten in retaliation by someone she believed to be a friend. His mother never wavered; and today, their family is an anchor in the faith and one of the sparks leading to explosive church growth in Xepocol.

Health Talents, through its scholarship programs, offers hope to students like Manuel. We are changing expectations for communities, parents and their children. And most importantly, we are part of God’s growing Kingdom.

We have others like Manuel, twenty-eight were in one or the other of our scholarship programs in 2018. Ten will graduate, twelve should be added. The others, the ones for whom we lack funding…they’ll have to wait.

With your help we can provide, not graduation gifts, but scholarships and the gift of graduation .
Birth of a Doctor
Twenty-five years ago, November 6, 1993 to be precise, Martha Ana Alvarez was born to Damian Gregoria Alvarez Lopez and Jesus Maria Gutierrez Castro in Santa Cruz del Quiche. Jesus Maria, a teacher, carried Martha Ana in her womb for nine long months; a process she would successfully repeat four more times with the births of Isaac, Daniel, Samuel and Eunice. All the while working to instill a love for learning in her children.

Damian, like his father before him, did what generations of his ancestors had done when expecting a child. Whatever it took! He labored in the fields, gathered firewood, molded adobe bricks from their land and ultimately settled into a career as a mason …and he and Jesus Maria dreamed of a better future for their children.

Fast forward 25 years and Martha Ana is in her eighth year of education labor pursuing a degree in medicine. Only one more month, I mean one more year and a doctor will be born!

As a doctor educated at the oldest university in the western hemisphere, the University of San Carlos, she will be capable of delivering a child in an adobe brick home on a dirt floor, but she will have been trained by the best her country has to offer. She will be another generation removed from simpler times, not necessarily better times. Martha Ana, able to speak Quiche, Spanish and a bit of English, will use her language skills and medical training to teach her patients about proper diet, good hygiene, sanitation and the importance of education.

Martha Ana, soon to be Dr. Alvarez, will integrate her physical gifts for healing with the spiritual gifts of healing from her Lord in a ministry of medical evangelism. Then we can rejoice with the news of spiritual births, those born again as a new creation. Not from the womb of a mother like Martha Anna’s, Jesus Maria, but through the blood of Jesus Christ!
A New Day Is Dawning…Has Dawned

Health Talents’ first encounter with the community of La Palma was in late 2005 after hearing rumors of starvation and malnourishment due to a severe drought. Carlos Baltodano, our Director of Operations at that time, had a phone number and the name of one of the church leaders. We spent several weeks calling without success and eventually determined our only option was to make a trip, or I might say trek, to La Palma.

Carlos is a native of Nicaragua and was only in his second year of employment with Health Talents in an era when cell phones were rare…our trip took on the air of an expedition. We knew La Palma was beyond Santa Cruz del Quiche, approximately four hours from the capital, Guatemala City, and somewhere north of San Pedro Jocopilas. Once we passed through San Pedro Jocopilas, the paved roads turned to occasional patches of pavement before giving way to dirt roads. We stopped frequently, asking for directions, correcting our course and ultimately came to the end of the road. Time for a hike!

After a lengthy hike at elevations above 7,000 feet we crossed a ridge and found ourselves in La Palma, a community of less than two thousand people and scattered adobe dwellings. Word spread quickly that strangers were in their midst and it wasn’t long until Agustin Mejia appeared. We explained who were, brothers in Christ, why we were there and that we had been trying to reach him for several weeks. He apologized, explaining that they only had one phone in the community, a cellular phone provided by the government. They only knew someone was trying to call when the red light flashed on the phone base and were unable to assign someone to watch for the flashing light 24 hours a day. 

Carlos calmly picked up the phone, flipped it over and turned on the “ringer.”

Providing someone with technology and not teaching them how it should be used is a lesson for another day; suffice it to say that a new day was dawning in La Palma and neighboring communities.

Health Talents pledged to partner with the church in La Palma that day, made arrangements for them to receive needed food supplies and introduced them to our ABC Program.
(Click here to learn how to sponsor an ABC child) It wasn’t long until dozens of children were being sponsored by generous US sponsors, attending school and receiving food supplies and other life essentials. This relationship was pivotal to our expansion beyond Santa Cruz del Quiche and communities like Xejox.

Fast forward to 2014 when we met Daniel Coj of Xejox, an applicant to our Sherman Scholarship Program. Antonio wished to become a rural health promoter and attend the Government Rural Health Institute. Yet, Xejox is so remote, Daniel must move to a village near Huehuetenango, several hours from home.

Daniel was accepted into the program and began studying in 2015. Now, after three years of hard work and dedication, Daniel has graduated, one of nine Sherman scholars to do so. For Daniel a new day has dawned, for ten others…dawn is breaking.

It’s hard for us to comprehend the realities of developing world conditions. It’s also hard for us to comprehend the lives that have been, and with God’s blessing will continue to be changed by your willingness to help. Thank you for supporting Health Talents and our scholarship programs!