A group of Princeton Alumni celebrated their 30th graduation anniversary by making a trip to Guatemala and distributing wheelchairs to various communities. The following story was told by William Farrell, a Princeton alumnus that went on the trip.
The members of the Class of 1977 Community Service Trip to Guatemala were classmates Amy Horbar (with her son Gus), Norman and Jeanne Asher, Donna Freeman (with her husband Bill), Henry Posner III (with daughter Hannah and son Gus), David Behring, and yours truly with my wife Marleny.
Henry provided an extra treat for us. He is Chairman of Ferrovias Guatemala, the country’s only railroad and we made two wheelchair distribution stops at his stations in the desert. Our first stop was in Guastatoya where we were greeted by a marching band, a homemade cannon and politicians’ speeches. However the best welcome for us was seen in the eyes of the wheelchair recipients and their families. There were not too many dry ones that day.
The average level of education in Guatemala is at the third grade level. We are trying to help change that. Since our last trip 5 years ago classmates have contributed school supplies, books and high school scholarships in Guatemala working with PAVA, a local not-for-profit. Coincidentally, PAVA is run by Vey Smithers, daughter of the late C. Francis Smithers ‘26.
Our team made ourlast stop at the National Palace in Guatemala City where we made our last distribution of wheelchairs before heading home. Unfortunately I could not get anyone there to raise the Princeton University flag over the palace. That would have made a fine photograph.
We had a great trip and changed many lives. After catching my breath I will try to put together another Guatemalan trip for later this year as we still have a lot of work to do. We look forward to our next service opportunity!