- The following is written by Wantagh resident Wendy Sabinsky.
I am writing to share with you a wonderful experience my sons Jordan (10th grade) and Carter (eight grade) had over the winter break.
Two weeks before Hurricane Sandy, our family booked a Caribbean cruise. When our basement in Wantagh flooded and we had to replace the boiler and hot water heater we debated cancelling the trip. I decided instead to use the trip as a learning experience; to show the boys that there were people in the world who had much less than us, that lived with destruction and no heat or hot water on a daily basis and that we were truly fortunate.
We arranged for a tour guide to take us to Lagunita Salvador, a remote village in Guatemala. Before going we asked what the village needed and/or would like us to bring. We were told that school supplies and sporting equipment were considered “luxuries” and therefore would be most appreciated. We brought bags of crayons, glue, pencils, pens, and small toys for the young children. Soccer is a passion for both my sons and Jordan hopes to play soccer in college so the request for sporting equipment turned into a suitcase filled with soccer balls.
We travelled approximately an hour on a motorized puddle boat through a jungle (straight out of Jurassic Park) and walked a mile to the village. We were greeted by approximately 75 people ranging in age from infants to their mid-40s. We were given a tour of their “homes” which consisted of one room mud huts and their “school” which had one room with a blackboard, some desks, and drawings the kids made.
Jordan and Carter distributed the items we brought. There was no pushing or shoving. The local children waited patiently on line to get their items with the older boys waiting anxiously until Jordan and Carter walked over to hand them the soccer balls. The smiles on the faces of the Guatemalan children were not nearly as big as the smiles on the faces of Jordan and Carter…. And as a bonus our tour guide arranged for Jordan and Carter to join in on an impromptu soccer game in the middle of the village.
As we boarded the boat for our hour ride back to our cruise ship, both Jordan and Carter asked if we could return to Guatemala for another visit and bring “even more stuff” next time.
Some people questioned our family when we informed them we were going to be donating items in Guatemala. After all, there were families much closer to home that needed these items as well. However, I thought it important to teach Jordan and Carter that we don’t live in a “vacuum”, that we need to do for others both near and far if we want this world to be a better place. I am confident that the devastation brought on by Hurricane Sandy and our Caribbean cruise will now be lifelong memories for Jordan and Carter about what is really important in life.