In a couple of months, March of 2017, I will be traveling to a remote region of Guatemala that is known as the Ixil Triangle . This remote mountainous area is trying to recuperate from a horrific act of genocide that occurred (Please read Why the Ixil Triangle? below). I will be working with a team that builds much-needed homes for mostly widows, single mothers and their children. The 2017 team consists of a network of churches that operate under the Bridges of Hope foundation and include people from Michigan and North Carolina. Although I am not a member of any of the churches I was asked to join the group as a translator. Most people in the Ixil Triangle do not speak Spanish for they are descendants of the Mayans. They speak Ixil. Our contact and guide in Guatemala, Andres, speaks Spanish and Ixil. I will communicate with Andres and he will help us communicate with the villagers. I will also aide in bringing supplies and building homes with the team. The team will fly to Guatemala with backpacks full of supplies and tools. Upon arrival, we purchase metal roofing, nails, chainsaws and any other necessary items for building off the grid. We then load everything onto an old bus and travel 10 hours from Guatemala City, to the Guatemalan Highlands. We then carry all of the building materials, tools, locally sourced lumber and camping gear up the side of the 10,000+ ft mountains. Rain makes the roads too unstable to use the bus for transport. The team will spend roughly 5 days in the villages and build approximately 18-24 houses. In addition our team will supply each home with a small, extremely efficient stove that burns less wood at a higher temperature and decreases smoke output, which has been the cause of many health and breathing problems people in these villages experience. As we try to equip the locals with the ability to help themselves each house receives gardening tools and tools that may facilitate a possible source of revenue and possibly trading among the villages. In the past, this has consisted of livestock that was renewable; or a rustic-style corn grinder. Our overarching goal is to help get these war-torn people back on their feet and improve their quality of life. These forgotten people are ready and willing to help themselves, but have nothing to start with. We are empowering the Ixil people with the ability to get their economy started again. Furthermore, we assist larger villages by funding a teacher to teach a basic education and the Spanish language. By learning to speak Spanish, the children improve the economic future of the community in that they will be able to trade outside of their immediate area. During the teaching program, these children are provided one meal per day to improve their health. Malnutrition, deriving from poverty, is a common cause of sickness in this area. Anyone who knows me knows that sleeping outdoors, hiking, eating out of my backpack and bus rides do not appeal to me. What compels me to embark in this journey is the opportunity to: facilitate communication between the Ixil villagers and a community of people who are committed and dedicated to helping them; make a positive impact on the lives of the Itil children and families in need; empower victims of genocide to help themselves and improve the quality of their lives; and share the experience of doing something good for the universe. I have spent most of my adult life facilitating communication between Spanish-speaking and bilingual children and their families and advocating for them. But an opportunity to help anyone on this level, for me, is unprecedented. I am so grateful to my family and friends for supporting me so that I can participate in this mission. Please consider donating. Expenses for the mission total around $1,200. We are leaving on MARCH 4th for our journey. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated - No amount is too low, or too high. Any excess funds, will be put towards the endless number of needs we witness in the villages. These needs range from children needing medical care, to opportunities to buy stoves for the families. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for supporting this mission. Why the Ixil Triangle? During the longest civil war in Latin American history, running from 1960 until 1996, the Ixil Triangle was hit by waves of horrific violence as it became the main theater of operation for the Guerrilla Army. As a result, the Guatemalan army targeted many of these areas, adopting a program of genocidal tactics against the Mayan communities. During this time military death squads massacred over 200,000 people, 440 villages were wiped from the map, and 1 million people fled their homes into the mountainous western highlands. In 1987 the atrocities of the Civil War came to light, and since the 1996 peace accords the government has taken steps taken to heal these wounds by building schools in these remote areas. Unfortunately, the resulting poverty and homelessness issues have not been addressed. During the last five years Bridge of Hope has been building on the foundation of its predecessors more than 20 years experience serving these devastated communities.