Hi, from Henry.


Hi, I’m Henry. I’m originally from Guatemala. Because I’m from there I still care about the people, especially the kids.

When I was 4 and I started going to school in England I felt like I wanted to help the other kids in Guatemala go to school. I wanted a way to make money and help pay for them to go to school.

One day my Mom and I were stressed out about all of the apples in our garden that we couldn’t eat and that were going to waste.

So we decided to DO something about the apples and DO something about the kids in Guatemala. We put it together and came up with the idea of making chutney.

We decided that the best way to use the apples and to make them last a long time was to put them in jars and make chutney. This way we could take our time with selling as much as we could.

We came up with a recipe that I would like. I like spicy things. I like REALLY spicy things. We did the normal ENGLISH thing with apples, and onions and sugar….but then we ZAPPED it with hot peppers…..Just like the Guatemalans would like.

I love my chutney. I eat it with eggs. I put it on sandwiches. Sometimes I just eat it plain.

So now we gather the apples and we cook the chutney. We stink up the house and we stink up our hair and we put it all in jars with my own special label.

We sell it Farm shops. We sell it to friends. We give it to EVERYONE we know.

The money that we make has helped a LOT of kids go to school and it makes me really happy.

What if you didn’t have anything to read?

A book written in Ixil

We hear about people not being able to read. That alone is sad.

Can you imagine if even worse, you had nothing to read? Imagine not being able to pick up a book, a newspaper, or even read a sign with directions. In rural Guatemala this is a very real scenario.

There are so many native Mayan languages that many are not even documented. In Santa Avelina, things are changing. This is where we are working with the William Botnam school and HELPS International. The school goes beyond teaching the children. It is involving the adults in the community as well and everyone is learning to read.

Even more exciting, we are developing books to read. In their language, with their traditions and with the excitement of a whole new world. It’s good stuff.

Meeting Juan Castro

In July we were fortunate enought to be able to go to Guatemala and meet Juan Castro.

Henry meeting Juan Castro and his family

Juan is a young man with a smirk on his face and a quiet nature about him. This year has been full of life altering changes for him. At 18, he lost legs, received prosthetics and is now getting an education. Before all of this he rarely left his home.

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TeamHelps is lucky enough to be supporting Juan in his dream of getting an education and watching him blossom into a very cool adult. Check out his story below.

Meeting Juan for the first time at a medical mission
Juan taking his first steps after receiving his prosthetics

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If you’re lucky enough to go to school in Guatemala it is usually for 6 years. When I asked Juan what he would do when he was finished Year 6 he gave me a smirk. Evidently he wants to be a lawyer. A lawyer!

We’re behind him all the way.

Graduation!

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Autumn in the hills of Guatemala brings a lot of excitement. It’s the time for the corn harvest as well as time for graduation from school. For our friends in Santa Avelina we’ll be celebrating with them as the Year 6 kids graduate and move on to the next stage in their lives.
It seems a small gesture, but TeamHelps has been able to provide these graduates with school jackets that have the name of the school embroidered on the front and on the back the year of their graduation. This year there are 20 children graduating. To me this is an amazing sign of hope in a place that seems so ‘heavy’ with the load of everyday survival.
In addition we’re so happy to see Isabela graduate from boarding school in ChiChi Isabela’s mother died a year ago and she has continued on with her dream of becoming a bookeeper and has been at the top of her class.
The son of our friend Domingo has a son named Pedro Angel who we’ve been fortunate enough to help in his final year of school. Pedro has dreamed of being a teacher since he was in first grade and he now can now see that dream become a reality.
For these kids to continue on with more than just a few years of school is something to see. For them it is hope and a way to help their community out of the isolation that they are in.
It’s a good time of year.

We did it.

So it turns out that 13.1 miles wasn’t so scarey after all. Thanks to everyone for their support, and thanks to Jane, Kerry, Lucy, Richard, Yvonne and Scott for running on the day. It looks like we have raised close to £2500, so well done!

Silverstone Half Marathon

A group of 10 really dedicated TeamHelps friends are racing around Silverstone in March….on foot!

They are training for this 13.1 mile race in an effort to raise money for the charity and to support the work being done this year in August.

We decided to run the race so that we would each be personally challenged (boy did we get that right!) and so that it would give us each the constant reminder of who we are trying to help. If you’re able to sponsor a runner – with supportive words or a fiver, it would hugely appreciated! Running in this winter weather has been quite the challenge.

Good luck to Richard, Rob, Kerry, Lucy, Jane, the Birnie clan ….(oh and me too please-I’m freaking out!!)

Donation Online button

TeamHelps UK is now a registered UK Charity!

For the last two years we have worked with Helps International, a charity based in the US and Guatemala. The infrastructure and support that they provide has been invaluable.

For our UK based crew however, it has been a nagging desire for us to be a charity in our own right. For the benefit of broader work in Guatemala as well as to be able to maximize contributions that are UK based.

The charity commission has worked with us for the last few months and helped us with our official registration. We are now charity number 1127612. Our next step is to register with HMRC to register for GiftAid so that we can set up a justgiving.co.uk account. Stay tuned!

Our trip to Santa Avelina in August 2008

In August we took a team of 16 people to Santa Avelina in the mountainous region of Quiche. Santa Avelina is located in an area known as the Ixil triangle. This particular region of Guatemala experienced, and suffered from, some of the greatest humanitarian atrocities committed during the 36-year civil war which ended in 1996. Families in the region live in conditions of extreme poverty, defined as having a family household income barely enough to provide for one meal a day. Most of these families rely upon an open fire on the dirt floor of their homes for cooking and heat. The smoke from the fire causes serious respiratory disease, cataracts and strokes, among other illnesses.

Our volunteers were able to fund and install 80 stoves in the homes of 40 families. Each family received both an indoor and outdoor stove. With an average family size of 7 members, over 280 lives were positively impacted through the program.

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On our last day in the region we had time to work in a primary school. The school has 290 pupils and 2 rooms. They were in dire need of clean drinking water, a means to cook for the children and books to help them learn. We were able to install a water filtration systems as well as an industrial stove. We also organized and supplied the school with basic books to get them started.

While there were 280 children attending the school, there were probably another 300 that were hanging around near the school but not attending. The elders of the community spoke to the community and told them that although many members of their families had been killed during the war, the children were now their future. They reminded everyone that there is hope and that if their children are able to go school they will have the opportunity for a better life.

The most rewarding part of the trip was exactly that – the hope and the smiles that you could see on people’s faces. Lives are so hard there that everyone, including the children, seem to carry a heavy weight. Seeing them laugh and be in awe of people from so far away was a real treat.

Thanks for your support. I know that sometimes donating to a far away cause can seem very distant and you question if the money was of real value. I can assure you that in this case your kindness touched many lives.

I am, I can, I ought, I will.

Today we had the opportunity to speak with the children from Henry’s school – The Dormer House School in Moreton in Marsh. The motto at Dormer is ‘I am, I can, I ought, I will.

The school has kindly included TeamHelps as one of the charities that they will support in this years Charity Day. Creative plans are already underway to help Henry’s friends in Guatemala. It’s good to see the children really putting the school motto into action. There was a lot of ‘I will’ speak after the assembly!

(Dormer’s website is at www.dormerhouse.co.uk)