Twelve members and friends of the Elmbrook and Port Washington-Saukville Rotary Clubs, returned March 2 from a week-long service mission to Antigua, Guatemala with members of Common Hope. Elmbrook Rotarian John Allen assisted his friend Pablo in helping to construct a new home. Finally, John had someone who could look up to him.

ImageThis was the third straight year that a team traveled to Guatemala to support the work of Common Hope Inc. in its mission to fight poverty by improving educational opportunities for children and families in over 17 rural villages surrounding Antigua.

The 2014 team was led by Elmbrook Rotarian Erik Moeser who was joined by club members Christine Spresser, John and Jeanne Allen, Doug Jacobson, and Wally Smanski. They were joined by friends and family including  Sandy Nelson, Judi Sarafin, Toni Allen, Janie Jacobson, Matt Smanski, and Carol Moeser.  Port Washington-Saukville Rotarians Randy LeRoy and Sri Vasudevan were also part of the team.

During the week in Guatemala, the group was involved in a variety of activities including building a house for a family, helping with routine tasks in the clinic and library, packing food baskets for families, and visiting the homes of families served by the Common Hope Partner School Program. The visits exposed team members to the home environments of the children with many families living on just $2 per day. The team also visited San Miguel Milpas Altas [SMMA] school to distribute library books, text books and a range of teaching materials purchased by Common Hope staff with funds from a Rotary grant of $6,500. Most public schools in Guatemala have no library and most of the students are without textbooks. The SMMA school currently has 518 students and a faculty of sixteen teachers.   

Many children served by Common Hope have a goal of graduating from high school because this will afford them the skills for a professional career. However, in Guatemala graduating from high school is still rare, especially for students from rural villages. Yet choosing to go on to high school adds expense to the family for increased tuition and school supplies and travel. The village of San Miguel has no high school and so students have to travel to Antigua or Guatemala City to attend high school. In addition, there is strong economic pressure on the family to have the student drop out after elementary school to help earn money for the family.

Common Hope also offers the opportunity to sponsor a child to meet education costs with the goal of keeping the child in school through high school. Rotarians and friends from Elmbrook and Port Washington-Saukville Rotary Clubs are currently sponsoring fourteen students. The cost of sponsoring one student is $60 per month or $720 for the school year. If you are interested in learning more about sponsoring a student, please contact Tom Pyne at