Guatemala was once the center of Mayan civilization, however, most of the country was conquered by Spanish conquistadors searching for gold and wealth in the 16th century. Starting in the mid-19th century, Guatemala became a hot bed of instability and political conflict due to a revolving door of dictators, many of whom were backed by the United States government.
This instability led to a bloody civil war fought between the government and leftist rebels from 1960 to 1996, which included massacres of indigenous Mayans. Though a United Nations-negotiated peace accord is now in place, Guatemala has seen both economic growth and democratic elections, while also struggling with high rates of poverty, crime and drug trade.
Since 2011, AIM has shown its love for its neighbors in Guatemala by assisting local villagers in meeting the basic needs of their community. In 2011, Christy Weber, the head of AIM's Guatemala Outreach! Team, went on a get-to-know trip to Guatemala with Central American Lutheran Mission Society (CALMS). During that trip Christy joined the folks from CALMS in visiting 8 different villages looking for an opportunity to bring a team of people from the US to assist the villagers in meeting the needs they identified for their community.
A year later, the Guatemala Outreach! Team took its first team of 12 people to Guatemala. During that first trip, the team worked with the people of the village of Quebrada de Agua (a small village in the mountains about 5 hours north of Guatemala City (the capital of Guatemala)) to build new homes for a couple of families in the village. In addition, they hosted a Vacation Bible School for the kids of the village.
Since that first year we have taken a team to Quebrada de Agua each summer. Prior to each trip, a representative of the Guatemala Outreach! Team meets with village leaders to discuss how the Team can work with the villagers to improve the lives of the villagers. As a result of these meetings, AIM has assisted the villagers in providing additional housing in the village and in providing safe stoves for the villagers.
In 2015, the Guatemala Outreach! Team partnered with AIM's Shoes & Hope Water Projects Team to install a water distribution system connecting a well at the top of the mountain 3 miles above the village (the only source of potable water for the village) to each home in the village. The Team also installed a latrine at the church in the village.
Through the work of its Guatemala Outreach! Team AIM has gained the trust and friendship of the people of Quebrada de Agua. AIM hopes to see that trust and friendship continue to grow each summer with the sending of additional teams to Quebrada de Agua. AIM also hopes to build similar relationships with other villages in the future.
Click on the box below to learn how you or your church, school or organization can join the Guatemala Outreach! Team in its work in Guatemala.