Wm. Dycks Makes Impact in Guatemala

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Greg Goertzen, Annette Krahn, Lin Regehr, Alison Fehr, Michele Harder, Jack Hildebrand, Jonathan Kasdorf, Heather Fast, Shawn Reimer, and Robert Fields. Heather Fast

For the second year running, a team of management and staff at Wm. Dyck and Sons plied their skills at a worksite far from home: Tactic, Guatemala. In February 2018, co-owner Heather Fast and nine staffers spent eight days in this rural area of South America, volunteering their labour at an orphanage soon to be opened by Impact Ministries. 

“Impact Ministries encourages groups to go out there,” says Fast. “They want people to see firsthand. When people see the good they’re doing, and they get to hug the kids, then they want to keep coming back. It was such a good experience last year. We can only take ten [employees], but everyone wants to go.”

While this was only their second year helping Impact Ministries, owner Carl Fast has taken staff to Guatemala on mission trips before. Three years ago, the Fasts decided to make a trip to the country on their own, seeking out a solid ministry that their business could support on an annual basis. They chanced upon Impact Ministries, toured their facilities, and returned home with a sense of satisfaction. This was a mission they could stand behind.

Founders Les and Rita Peters began the ministry to Guatemala 15 years ago. Hailing from British Columbia, they sold their belongings in 2000, packed their three children into the family van, and began a journey that would change their lives. A few years later, Impact Ministries was born. Their mission is to train Guatemalans for leadership by teaching biblical principles in such a way that they become integrated in their lives and effect spiritual change in their society.

The Peterses began by opening one school for children, teaching less than 100 students. Since then, the ministry has built and funded ten schools, with over 1,500 students in total. The schools are spread in and around Tactic, some in remote villages where literacy is almost non-existent. In these areas, hands to work are regarded as more useful tools than educated minds. The Peterses are helping to change that thinking for young people, running school programs from pre-Kindergarten to graduation. Today, many of the local teachers within the schools are themselves Impact graduates. 

For years, the Peterses and their team dreamed of branching out to include an orphanage for abandoned children. That dream is now becoming a reality and will soon open with the launch of Children’s Home. It was at Children’s Home where the staff of Wm. Dycks were put to work. Five women painted the exterior of the building while five men built a concrete fence surrounding it. 

“The work part is great, but at the end of the day they can hire their own people to do that, too,” says Fast. “We could just send money, but it’s the relationship building and it’s about bringing people out so they can see what’s going on.”

Fast says that only about half of their time in Tactic is spent doing manual labour. The other half is about building relationships and experiencing the culture firsthand. The Wm. Dycks team visited many of the ten schools in the area, sharing hugs with the children and witnessing the work of the ministry. Their week also included in-home visits with some local families and a trip to the maternity ward of the local hospital. Fast says children are dropped off there on a daily basis—some abandoned, some abused. Widespread poverty, she says, plays a big part in that.

“Visiting the hospital was really difficult because it’s definitely a third-world hospital [with] very little medicine,” she adds.

Impact Ministries believes in making it easy for volunteers to get the whole Guatemalan experience when they come. With the donation made by the Fasts, Impact provided shuttles to and from the airport, a fully furnished guest facility, translators, meals on site and in local restaurants, and daytrips to a variety of locations in the area. This included one day in Antigua, a city in central Guatemala rich with Spanish history and colonial culture. The city is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site and provided an interesting pitstop for the team before heading back home to Canada.

Another benefit of this adventure, Fast says, is the bonding that takes place between fellow employees over the course of the week. As well, she’s sure that every one of them has come back moved by the work of Impact Ministries. 

“What I really like about Impact is that it really is the Guatemalan people that run it,” Fast says. “One day, if Les and Rita aren’t there anymore, this will continue and it will be the Guatemalan people that continue it.”

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