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Religious Youth Service

RYS Helps Build Additions on to a Mayan School

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Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala –The RYS began on the 1st of July, in the midst of the 500-year-old capital city of Antigua, Guatemala. Volunteers from Cuba, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, United Kingdom, and the United States (including two Hopi Native Americans) participated in the project. For the work period participants traveled to the community of Santiago Atitlán, where some parts of the town had been buried beneath mudslides caused by hurricane Stan in October 2005.

Each day began with provocative meditations lead by either staff or a participant. Since the project was to build additions on to a Mayan school, daily work included, pouring a concrete roof, painting classrooms, building drains and installing a septic tank. - Some cleaning was also done at the waterfront of the gorgeous lake Atitlán, which is surrounded by three large volcanoes and many tiny Mayan villages.

Afternoons were filled with sports competitions, exploration of the surrounding community, and sharing with the local townspeople, as well as with investigations into the intriguing crafts created throughout the area. Project participants performed skits, dances, or songs; listened to speakers, visited towns around the lake by boat and went swimming in the clear, blue, lake water.

In the evenings, with sun setting on the horizon, there was time for discussions around a bonfire, further education sessions, and even a chance to participate in a Mayan religious ceremony on the shores of the lake. Before going to bed, we ended each day with an evening meditation and journaling.

The time for parting came all too soon for everyone. The closing ceremony included a heartfelt gift and rose exchange. The experience remains dear in the hearts of all involved, and the friendships and other relationships created in rendering loving service to Santiago Atitlan will last a lifetime.


Participants: 33 Staff Members: 7
Religions Represented: 5 Nations Represented: 6

July 1-12, 2006

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