SIFE Travels To Guatemala
Siloam Springs, Ark. (March 12, 2004) — In the early hours of the morning, a team of 11 people from John Brown University will put their bags in a van and head to Tulsa, to catch the red-eye flight to Guatemala on Friday, March 12. The group is spending spring break helping to develop economic projects in Guatemala City and surrounding areas. Santa Cruz is a tiny town outside of Guatemala City that has a population of 2,000. It has a child mortality rate of approximately 50 percent. It is rare that one person in the town has an education past the sixth grade. The people spend their days working for rich landowners for minimal pay. This little village has become the center of the newest JBU SIFE project. “We are going into Santa Cruz primarily to build relationships that will allow us to come back and help the town establish basic business and economic principles,” Mandy Moore, SIFE team spokeswoman said. The group will host activities for children including a soccer camp, face painting and a party on Monday, March 15. The party will celebrate the life of Mark Lebeau, son of assistant registrar, Fran Calvert. Mark died of cancer near his 16th birthday. He would have turned 20 this year. Each year Calvert likes to do something special for her late son’s birthday. She approached the SIFE team about throwing a party with kids during their trip and they agreed. Later in the week, the team and members of the community will construct a playground for the children in honor of Mark. On the team is doctor Paul Campbell, father of a JBU SIFE team member, and his daughter, Lyndsey Campbell, a nursing student. They will have an open clinic and offer basic medical services as well has teach first aid classes and CPR classes. In addition to the clinic duties, Dr. Campbell will also evaluate the nutritional needs of the people. “By considering what the people need nutritionally, the SIFE team will be better able to develop micro enterprises that can not only facilitate income, but actual nutrition enrichment as well,” Moore said. The average Santa Cruz resident only eats one meal a day. The SIFE team has researched a variety of economic development projects include creating a chicken bank, goat farm, training a town nurse, a bakery and a bicycle repair shop. The team hopes to plan and begin implementation in the near future. The team will conduct a census so they can implement a micro-economic system for the future of the town. In addition, the team will also help secure a water tank that supplies water for the school. The tank base is make of wood and is currently cracking. Nearing the end of the trip, students will take part in a street ministry for kids. Dr. Joe Walenciak, professor of business, spent his sabbatical this year working with the street kids. The team will hold a soccer camp for the kids as well as offer a street clinic in the same area that Dr. Walenciak worked in. Many of the street kids are addicted to solvents and rarely received medial care. The team will relax on Friday and meet with the Guatemala SIFE team as well as explore the area. JBU’s team will share different projects that they have been successful with in the past and discuss ways the two teams can combine efforts for various projects. Former JBU SIFE president, Debora Ramirez is now the national SIFE director for Guatemala and will also spend time with the JBU team. On the final day of the trip, the team will travel to San Antonio Agues Callientes to meet with a group of 18 women who make traditional Guatemalan garments, fabrics, tablecloths, purses and many other items in a co-op. Together these women work hard to send their children to school. Currently the market is saturated with similar products. The SIFE team will share with the women ways to import the items into the U.S. through the Internet and stores. SIFE team member Matt Fraser has been working on an import strategy for the women. “This trip is just the beginning of an overall 5-10 year plan. There is much more work to be done,” Moore said. The JBU SIFE team was named second-runner up at the SIFE national competition in Kansas City, Mo, in May 2003. More than 800 teams from universities and colleges nationwide competed to earn a place as one of 150 teams invited to the national competition. John Brown University is a top-tier private university, ranked 11th by U.S. News & World Report in the Southern Region. JBU enrolls more than 1,800 students from 42 states and 42 countries. JBU is a member of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.