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To be a true traveler

Judy Milligan with Conchita and granddaughter, Maggie.
Judy Milligan with Conchita and granddaughter, Maggie.

By: Jan Myers
Article reprinted with permission from Cochocton Tribune

To be a true traveler, you have to get off the bus

Taking your children on a trip to a third world country is a perfect opportunity to allow them to explore the art of being a true traveler rather than simply a tourist. A tourist stays at the hotel or sits on the bus and watches the local people. A traveler gets off the bus and goes among the people and truly experiences their culture.

In November, my parents (Dave and Judy Milligan), my children (Maxx, 14, and Maggie, 9) and I ventured to Guatemala in Central America to visit a sponsor child.

The child, Conchita, is a 10-year-old Guatemalan girl whom Dave and Judy have been sponsoring for a number of years. She lives in a small village near the Pacific Coast. Even through translated letters from Spanish to English, a great relationship had developed between Judy and Conchita's mother over the years. 

Conchita is sponsored through Plan USA.

Our family actually visited the Guatemalan family two years ago and had such a great experience that we returned again this past month. We visited with Conchita and her three siblings and parents. Since we don't speak Spanish, we had interpreters with us for the trip. Our English-speaking guide in Guatemala was Ana Luisa Lara Haeussler

One of the days there, my parents hosted a fiesta for the entire village, which included more than 300 people, mostly children. The school children put on a program for us and a clown provided entertainment for the kids in the audience. He even got Judy and Dave up on the outdoor stage and had them don silly masks and dance with him.

It is hard to describe the feeling of true appreciation from these simple, kind people. They live in one-room wood or concrete block homes with crude outside showers and toilets. They have very, very little, yet they are willing to share what they have. During the fiesta, several piñatas sprayed candy over the ground. The sea of children devoured the candy, but not before several of them came up to Maggie and Maxx and handed them candy, too.

Our sponsor child's family also served us two meals. From what little they had, they served us delicious roasted chicken one day and a spicy beef another day. Even though they have such a simple existence, they seem so happy and grateful.

Do you want to see firsthand the difference you're making in the life of your sponsored child? Plan a trip and visit the field through us.


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