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Taking a bite out of poverty



  • April 29, 2019
Emily Towns
Emily Towns

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For the first time in quite a long while, Norma is able to smile.

At the age of 43, she has already endured unspeakable tragedy — losing one of her children to leukemia. She worked hard in the midst of her sorrow, doing her best to provide for her remaining four children. But she was also suffering physically. The sharp, shooting pain around her teeth was a constant reminder of poverty … a constant reminder that she couldn’t afford medical care for herself or her family.

But then a team of volunteers recruited by Nix and Linnea Daniel came to town and gave Norma a precious gift.

A passion and commitment emerge

Nix and Linnea first heard about the needs in Guatemala when a friend invited them to a golf tournament sponsored by World Help supporters. Within a year, Nix and his daughter Amy were headed to the impoverished country. That first trip made such an impression that they returned to Guatemala just a few months later, this time with Linnea and a small team of volunteers.

Since those initial visits, the team of volunteers has grown. In the same way a friend invited them to get involved, now the Daniels are passionate about inviting others to make a difference in Guatemala.

When Nix and Linnea committed to completing a Village Transformation in the village of El Paraiso, they enlisted the help of friends, family, business associates, and members of their Sunday School class. Together, they raised enough money to install a clean-water well, construct a church building, and put an addition on the local school building.

The Daniels’ community brought help and hope to a village that desperately needed it. Members of Nix and Linnea’s church also agreed to sponsor more than 50 children in the village. By 2018, the couple was ready to take the next step.

“We went back [to El Paraiso] in 2018 to dedicate all that had been done up to that point,” Nix said. “We were trying to decide what our next step was. During our last day there, we were taken to a part of the village that we hadn’t seen before.”

Nix and Linnea were shocked when they saw the conditions people were living in. While Guatemala’s economy has grown over the past several years, the prosperity hasn’t reached people like Norma, and much of the country lives on next to nothing. The Daniels returned home and rallied their community — this time to build a series of 11 small homes for families in El Paraiso. Once again, people jumped into action.

“The houses were financed by all kinds of people,” Linnea said. “People in Nix’s office got together to build one, people in our church did the same. We even had some cousins that sponsored a home in honor of their almost 90-year-old mother. It really was a joint effort.”

Meeting physical needs and more

Since that first trip, Nix and Linnea have led a number of other groups to Guatemala. And over the years, the trips have grown in size.

“Every time we say we’re going, we have another increase in the amount of people who want to go,” Nix said.

Their most recent trip was no exception. Although it was originally planned as a time to go and dedicate the small homes, Nix and Linnea heard about the need for a medical team.

“There were several medical professionals who were interested in going with us,” Nix said. “We ended up with three dentists, a doctor, a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse, an EMT, a pharmacist, and 19 or so other individuals. They got the non-medical people involved and showed them how to assist and sterilize the equipment and that kind of thing.”

The extreme need for medical care and dental work kept the team busy. People came from villages all over to receive treatment. Norma was just one of the many people who needed extractions and dental work. By the time the dentists were finished with her, Norma was beaming.

With their compassion and gentle care, the Daniels’ team offered more than just physical healing — they restored spirits and delivered hope, something that poverty too often steals.

“One of my favorite aspects was the readers, the glasses,” Linnea said. The team had brought a large supply of donated readers, glasses, and sunglasses, and the impact was huge. “It was pretty fantastic to watch people sit down and all of a sudden their face would light up,” she said. “They could see clearly for the first time.”

Nix and Linnea also saw firsthand how important it is to have proper medical equipment. In many poor communities, hospitals and clinics sit empty. Doctors and nurses wait desperately for the tools, equipment, and supplies they need to save lives — but too often those supplies never come.

“There’s a structure there,” Nix said, “but without specific equipment, the clinics cannot run smoothly or operate in their full capacity.”

Rows of hospital beds, walkers, crutches, hygiene kits, and more are waiting in World Help’s warehouse ready to be sent. When donors like you help ship these supplies, doctors around the world are able to restore health to people like Norma.

“One bite at a time”

For Nix and Linnea, it is important to remind people that any impact they can make is just that — an impact.  

“This was sort of an ‘aha’ moment for us,” Nix said. “You can think about the needs of the world. You can think about the needs of Guatemala and all that, and it can be so overwhelming that you just say to yourself, ‘What difference can I really make?’ When faced with a large project, one of my partners at our law firm always says, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ And that’s it. You think that what you do is insignificant, when in fact it’s not.

“If what you can do is give $35 a month to sponsor a child, that makes a difference. If what you can do is go to Guatemala and help on a trip, that makes a difference. If you can dig a well, build a school or a house, it makes a difference to that person.”

They’ve seen this kind of impact many times. Even their daughters have played a role, encouraging their friends to simply do what they can.

“Our daughter’s Sunday School class is all young marrieds with young children,” Linnea said. “But she’ll say, ‘We need these school supplies or these onesies,’ and people respond. Involving lots of people, even in small ways is huge.”

One of the ways you can help save a life today is by helping ship lifesaving medical aid and food supplies to people like Norma and to hospitals around the world. Every dollar you give, combined with corporate donations and grants, multiplies to send $33 worth of medical equipment, supplies, clothing, and nutritious food to people in need.

Your $30 will send $990 worth of aid — and a countless amount of hope — to men, women, and children who are suffering right now. It may seem small, but to the woman receiving medical treatment it is huge. To the child who no longer has to go to bed hungry, it is huge. To the refugee who has lost everything, it is huge.

You can help take a bite out of poverty — one person at a time.

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