Charismatic, passionate, dynamic, committed and visionary are five words that come to mind immediately when trying to describe the incredible person Juan Pablo is. Once again another group of loyal JustWorld supporters was blown away by his presence this past week on a project visit to Los Patojos.
The week started off with a clinic by leading French rider Kevin Staut, who for the second consecutive year dedicated a piece of his precious time to visit Guatemala. The clinic was held at the beautiful El Cortijo riding school owned by Juan Andres Rodriguez and his family. “Juan Andres has been the most consistent supporter of JustWorld’s partnership with Los Patojos, and it is thanks to him that we are in Guatemala,” explains Executive Director Jessica Newman. “One of the main factors which makes this partnership so unique is the involvement of so many supporters within the Guatemalan equestrian community.”
During the luncheon that followed, parents and visitors exchanged positive comments about the clinic, while Kevin took selfies with his adoring fans. Juan Pablo made the trip from Antigua and gave a beautiful speech to thank Kevin and the equestrian community for their time and commitment. All of the proceeds from the clinic and luncheon will go directly towards Los Patojos to support the doctor and medical supplies for their medical clinic.
The following days were spent visiting Los Patojos where the group was invited to be part of the children’s regular school days. On top of that, the kids prepared dances, theater performances, and an art show. The cultural program is one which Juan Pablo dedicates special attention to because it is through performing and visual arts that the children and youth explore and express their feelings. It gives them purpose and provides them with a safe place to visit several times a week.
What stood out particularly to Kevin was the artistic development of the students since he had spent time with them one year ago. He said, “The children improved their dancing, singing and drawing skills greatly. They have become so much more confident thanks to Juan Pablo who teaches them to believe in themselves and who is such a reassuring presence in their lives.”
What makes Juan Pablo so unique is his unfailing optimism and the greatness of his heart. His vision for the future does not end with Los Patojos, but extends to his entire community, his city and even his country. He doesn’t aim only to educate his students, but to give them a real chance at life. Kevin shared, “What is remarkable is the ambition he instils in his students and the need to realize the craziest dreams.” Juan Pablo provides the opportunity for them to make a real change and not only gives them the tools to use, but more importantly the confidence to do so. This is why for example he includes journalism and political studies in the educational program at Los Patojos as well.
This visit to Los Patojos was especially significant for Francie Steinwedell, as it marks her as the first ambassador to have visited three projects. “All three projects are different but equally fantastic and I recommend visiting any one of them. The trip to Cambodia is the furthest to make, but it is so worth it, as it is the only project that allows a true glimpse into the lives of the kids outside of school because they all live in the area and it isn’t dangerous to visit.”
Francie shared a pivotal moment, “For me the light bulb went off when I saw other local kids spending their days on the street and was able to compare them to the kids at JustWorld’s Cambodian project PIO, and I saw how much healthier and happier they looked.”
Another group member, Denyse Baillet, has been a long time supporter of JustWorld and spent a month teaching English at PIO two years ago. Denyse told the group, “In both cases, JustWorld is making such an incredible difference in the lives of hundreds of children who otherwise would have no access to health care or education. Once you have seen that with your own eyes, there is no way you cannot continue to support JustWorld and those who dedicate their lives to these children. At Los Patojos it is heartwarming to see the happiness and enthusiasm of the children. One leaves there with an impression of freedom, joy and color.”
JustWorld would like to thank Juan Andres, Michelle, and the whole Rodriguez family for not only hosting the clinic, but always making everyone feel at home and for everything they continue to do for Los Patojos. Thank you also to Kevin for taking the time to give the benefit clinic and visiting the project; the committee for their preparations and dedication to the cause; and everyone within the Guatemalan equestrian community who participated in the clinic and visited Los Patojos. Your support continues to help all of the incredible children and youth at Los Patojos!
Interested in coming on a future trip to visit a JustWorld Project? Meet us in Cambodia November 16-22 to visit PIO! E-mail Amber for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org