Update from Guatemala

Sister Joyce Kahle and Sister Terry Walter are co-directors of Casa Sofia, our residence for university students in Guatemala City. Sister Joyce recently sent joyful updates from their ministry there.

We enjoyed seeing three of our students graduate last spring with beautiful ceremonies and fun celebrations!

Berna (Bernandina) graduated from the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Antigua on March 28 with a technical degree in nursing, and nursing with an orientation in primary care. This is similar to an RN degree in the States. Berna continues her work in an outpatient dental hospital.

The next student to graduate was Lety (Berta Leticia) from the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala City on April 15 with a licenciada or degree in theology. She was surprised at the graduation when she received special recognition for graduating cum laude at the top of her class. Here in Guatemala, college graduates have a sponsor who has a degree in the same field. In Berna’s situation, the same faculty members were sponsors for all the graduates, but for Lety’s class, a person with the same degree could sponsor them. So Sister Terry was Lety’s sponsor since she also has a degree in theology. Sister Terry accompanied Lety up on the stage and had the honor of placing her cap on her head. Lety continues studying chiropractic, sees some clients for medical massage, and is beginning to teach 8- and 9-year-old children in a Catholic school to prepare them for their First Communion.

Sindy graduated from the University of San Carlos on April 27 with a licenciada in social work. Her practicum was with an area in the department of Jutiapa called Lagunilla, about three hours from the capital. Her thesis also included a project in which she helped get funding to bring potable water to the people in that area. The people themselves secured funding for most of the materials and they provided all the labor, but the Sisters of the Precious Blood donated money for the larger water pump to bring the water uphill to the water tank which would provide water for several villages.

The University of San Carlos graduates each received their cap and gown from their sponsor and director, took their oath as social workers and signed the register. The director of the social work department spoke personally to each graduate about their thesis. She praised Sindy’s work and dedication to going beyond the requirements for her practicum, staying in contact with the leaders in that area, visiting them after the COVID travel restrictions were lifted, and advocating for them to help their dream of a water project become a reality. We were all very proud of her. Terry and I were in tears. The project was completed and dedicated last month.

Then each graduate had a few minutes to express their thanks, and Sindy included the Sisters of the Precious Blood for the opportunity to live at Casa Sofia and continue her studies at the University. (More tears!) Sindy is an active member of the board of our nonprofit association, which includes Casa Sofía and the Center of Formation in San Raymundo, the school that Sister Mary Faye Hellman started years ago. Since her graduation, Sindy was hired to work with a team of social workers in the Department of Chiquimula, where she is from, on a project to eliminate malnutrition and hunger, especially in children. She does home visits in rural areas to gather information on the nutritional status of each family and, if needed, to connect them to agencies for food assistance. Although the work is hard and requires walking up and down dirt paths on the hillsides, sometimes long distances in rain or sun, to reach the homes, Sindy loves meeting the people and being a part of reducing the high rate of hunger in Guatemala.

Needless to say, Terry and I are very proud of our graduates!

— Story by Sister Joyce Kahle

Top, Berna with Sisters Terry and Joyce; second, Lety with Sisters Joyce and Terry, outside on campus; third, Sister Terry places the graduation cap on Lety’s head; fourth, Sindy and her mother with with Sisters Terry and Joyce; contributed photos.

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