Families Join Together to Change Lives in Remote Villages Around the World

Imagine saving the life of a young girl who is malnourished and providing her with a life saving vitamins. Imagine 41 village women walking distances of up to three hours journey over mountains and rocky terrain to come learn the basics of saving and budgeting, or training 400 villagers the basics of brushing their teeth and sterilizing water. Now imagine what a life-changing experience this would be if you were doing it alongside the members of your own family.

This is exactly what Family Humanitarian Experience (FHe) is doing, serving hundreds of remote Q’eqchi’ villagers in the Polochic Valley of Guatemala and doing it right alongside their spouses and children.

FHe is a new organization geared for LDS families and couples who want to serve and have spiritually uplifting experiences along the way. On an FHe expedition, LDS church services are held at the beginning and end of the week, and participants are invited to share thoughts and prayer each night after the day’s work is completed.

Last summer seven FHe leaders joined with Singular Humanitarian and CHOICE Humanitarian to lay the groundwork for what FHe will be doing this July on their inaugural expedition to Guatemala. CHOICE Humanitarian is a distinguished non-profit organization based in Salt Lake City with over 30 years of experience in sustainable village development. SHe is a sister organization to FHe for LDS single professionals that develops and provides curriculum and hands-on training to villages around the world in much the same way as FHe, focusing on the areas of business, medicine, and teacher education.

[singlepic id=274 w=320 h=240 float=right]In July 2011 FHe leaders worked alongside SHe volunteers and local villagers in medical and dental clinics where over 400 patients were seen and treated, teacher training workshops where 46 rural teachers were given new skills to teach local children, economic development trainings where 41 women where empowered to create business plans, and on the building of a 20-room hospital, the only one within a three-hour radius.

When Tyler DeLange, Co-Executive Director of FHe and Co-Founder of SHe went on his first expedition, he knew he wanted not only LDS singles to experience true charity in action but also LDS families as well. He wanted his family members to have the life-changing experience of seeing rural villages rise out of poverty through sustainable humanitarian practices first hand.

“As I traveled to different villages to help attend to nearly 500 patient consultations, distribute hundreds of multi-vitamin packs to malnourished villagers, and treat children with scabies, I realized the need was great for more people to continue serving. I also realized the joy was unspeakable as the villagers taught me what life was really about and I wanted my family members to experience this true joy with me,” said DeLange.

[singlepic id=61 w=320 h=240 float=left]Rachel von Niederhausern, Co-Executive Director of FHe, went on an expedition with SHe in 2010 and went again in July 2011 with her husband Steven as part of FHe. During both expeditions she participated heavily in the economic development workshops and saw amazing progress made by the local village women from one summer to the next.

One woman, Powlina, had been deeply in debt in the summer of 2010. After attending the economic development workshop she decided to put the savings principle into action. She reported the next summer she had devised a business plan, saved 12,000 Q, and had changed her family’s life forever.

“These Q’eqchi’ people are so humble and giving,” said von Niederhausern. “Families can’t help but be influenced for the better by these generous and truly happy people and their culture. Families who serve with FHe will go home with deeper gratitude, a deeper love of mankind and for each other, and with the desire to not take anything for granted, especially relationships. This is the gift the Q’eqchi’ people give to us, the ability to love and live our lives on a deeper level.”

FHe recently launched their website, www.familyhumanitarian.org, and opened registration for their expedition to Guatemala in early July 2012. FHe will take 50 volunteers on this expedition and registration closes March, 1, 2012.

For more information contact Rachel von Niederhausern at rachel.v@familyhumanitarian.org.

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