Ways in which we give back to society
Our very own Barrington stylist Emilie, lived and took the Aveda mission outside of the salon walls. With her incredible talents as a hairstylist she used this gift to help those who may not receive this luxury. For her vacation getaway she spent 2 weeks in South America at a baby malnutrition clinic in Guatemala. Aside from exploring the beaches and amazing views this country had to offer, Emilie spent countless hours playing, feeding, and nurturing babies. She also spent a whole day using her talents to cut women and children of the clinics hair. She Intrigued by her journey and visually seeing her activity throughout the trip it is only fitting to find out truly how the experience impacted her.
Reason for going to Guatemala?
I went to Guatemala to volunteer at a baby malnutrition clinic with my cousins (and to also enjoy the beach for 3 days!)
Is this your first time visiting?
No my first time was last year, August 2016. My cousins and I are hoping to make this a yearly trip together.
What part of Guatemala did you travel to and how long did you visit for?
I went to Antigua about an hour and a half/ two hours away from Guatemala City. Antigua is their main tourist town and that’s where the malnutrition clinic is located. I was there for 7 days—the trip was 10 days total.
Why did you choose to visit this malnutrition clinic specifically and how did you come across it?
I went to this malnutrition clinic specifically because my cousin Don is the one to “stumble upon it” so to speak. He found it when he visited Guatemala in 2014 when he was traveling the world. He loved spending time there and has gone back every year for months at a time. When he’s there each year my other cousin, Karla (his sister), and I try to correlate trips.
Did you bring anything to donate and if so what did you bring and how much?
This time around it was awesome! I got to bring a ton of stuff down there. They need the basic baby stuff—formula is their biggest/ most crucial need. They also can use any baby related necessities like diapers, wipes, shoes, crib sheets, bottles, clothes, toys, etc. This year I brought down 30 pounds of formula thanks to co-workers and clients as well as shoes, diapers, and wipes
How many kids reside in the clinic that you had visited?
The malnutrition clinic is called Casa Jackson and its part of an organization called God’s Child Project. They recently renovated and they can hold 50 babies now! When we visited this time, the only had enough funding to cover hospital staff for 17 babies. Of the 17 babies, 12 of the moms were staying there. Moms are allowed to stay at the clinic with their babies and take care of them if they are able to, meaning they don’t have other kids or jobs. A lot of the babies are poverty orphans, meaning they have families that love them they just can’t afford to feed them so they end up becoming very sick. Some moms and dads visit on family day which is every Tuesday and Saturday morning. Other babies are dropped at the door or their moms don’t come back for them.
Why Guatemala specifically?
I guess Guatemala specifically because of my cousin finding Casa Jackson. Also Guatemala is considered 3rd world. Their people live in extreme poverty.
Were there any issues with a language barrier? Did you have to learn any sort of language before going down there?
Yes. Language barrier was difficult. It was hard because the moms would smile at you and hold eye contact or come up to you and rub your arm and try talking to you really slowly in Spanish, but all we say back was “no habla espanol” (I don’t speak Spanish), and then they would laugh. You could tell they just wanted to talk to you so bad and we wanted to do the same! After this trip my cousin and I vowed to try Rosetta Stone or enroll in a community college Spanish class. Just so then that way we could communicate next year. My cousin Don speaks Spanish pretty close to fluently so we were able to get by with him but we would have loved communicating more ourselves.
What did you take most from the trip?
Perspective. It’s crazy going down there—like mind blowing! You see these people who have nothing. They live in conditions that you couldn’t even fathom, in shacks the size of parking spaces made of tin and they are so sweet, kind, happy, smiling, and giving even though they have nothing for themselves or anything to give. Guatemala is one of my favorite places ad will always hold a dear place in my heart because of the reset that it gives you. All the noise and busyness we experience day to day just shuts off your mind, it allows you to slow down and enjoy the present moment because of how simple life is down there. It’s a good time to reflect and makes you realize what’s really important and what you take for granted. I feel like each time you go you come back home with overwhelming compassion and thankfulness.
What kind of experience was it cutting hair for the women and children vs. in the salon that you work in?
Cutting the women and children’s hair was my favorite day of the whole trip. It was so cool to give my time and talent to these women and their babies and see their faces light up. It was sweet to see how happy it made them. It was a totally different experience there because we had to buy dove shampoo from a little market store and wash the women’s hair in the sink—nothing was really luxurious about that. And then it was really hard communicating because of the language barrier. Also they sat in plastic chairs outside for haircuts and we didn’t have a blow dryer or any round brushes or product for styling but they were so happy and grateful nonetheless.
Is there anything from the trip that made you reflect on a lifestyle change and is so why/ what?
Yes! And it probably sounds cheesy or cliché but it all goes back to perspective. Honestly, you come home and kind of feel like none of this really matters in a sense. Not hopelessly, but that it shows you what’s really important. I mean you spent a week with the bravest kids on the planet- that are so sick and teeny tiny and just want to be loved, held, and most of all survive. You are around people who have nothing and have some of the happiest attitudes and sweetest smiles. Then you come back to reality and you see how lifestyle here is totally different—a lot times we do things to impress others or get the newest, biggest, best gadget/ car/ house/ etc. Not to say that those things are wrong, but it shows you that your happiness shouldn’t depend on materials. Its’ about coming home and feeling content with whatever you have around you. You also catch yourself complaining less about first world problems or feeling guilty for complaining. You tend to think to yourself, “wow I have so much”, or “I have enough AND more than I need”, or “I’m so thankful for clean running water.” It’s the simple things you realize too. Each year I come back and purge—just try to get rid of a lot I have and don’t need. It makes you realize your time and your money the two most important things you have to give- is better invested in your relationships with family and friends- what really should matter over any material gain.