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Remodeling the Place They Call Home| PART 1

Project Timeline: April 2023

For a few years, I've had a dream of remodeling orphanages, and when I finally told my husband about this idea, he said, "Let's do it!" Of course, he is almost always on board with doing something new, especially if it means impacting the lives of kids in tough situations. Now, we are thrilled to say, this is not a dream but a reality. Our first orphanage remodel project happened as smoothly as we could have asked, and I'm going to let you know just how it happened.

Note: Through our blogs and site, you'll notice we will not be sharing photos of individual children. We highly value their privacy and want to do our part in protecting them. A lot of the photos you might see are from our team at work, but know these kids taught us a lesson in joy-fullness and stole a piece of all of our hearts.

In terms of hands-on work/labor, these were our three targets:

  1. Create a physical therapy space for the children.

  2. Remodel the girls' bathroom.

  3. Refresh the interior walls in the courtyard.

Our Mission: For the first target, we used an existing area in the children's home and hired our friend, an architect in Guatemala, to draft up the final plans for the therapy area. He verified we could work with the existing structure, and he managed the project by hiring a local contractor to do the building and complete the work.

We are thankful for our friend and the local crew. They did the work within budget and within schedule! We had planned the work of the structure to begin two weeks before our team from the US arrived to help with the finishing work. The work was on time, and our team was able to help with cleanup and adding color to the space. Our contractor went back after and added doors and windows to the space.

After connecting with the director of the children's home, she let us know the children are so happy, as are the staff! Now they have a place where local volunteers, specifically ones in med school, can work with the children and help out in the children's home.

The reason we decided to tackle this project first was that all of the children at this children's home have multiple special needs, and creating a therapy area was one way we could positively impact all of them. The children did not have an enclosed area, away from the elements where they could play or do their physical therapy.

The same is with their dining area, hopefully, a project we can help with in the future. Right now, the children enjoy their meals out in the open air; they have a roof to protect them, but no wall to keep out the rain, wind, cold, or heat depending on the day. Reach out and let us know if you would like to sponsor the building of the dining room.

Here are some photos of the structure before and after the work is completed.

We made time to add life to the interior of the courtyard with a fresh coat of color. Having lived in an orphanage, as a little girl, I remember the joy of freshly colored walls. A lot of these children will spend most of their lives within these walls, so adding a little touch of life and joy goes a long way!

In addition, our contractor remodeled the girls' bathroom, as it was not safe for the girls. The ceilings were scraped and redone due to mildew buildup. Ventilation was improved to avoid this problem in the future. New grab bars were installed as well. The director of the orphanage had the opportunity to pick out the tile and is so happy with the final results. We didn't get a very good photo of the before or after in the bathroom.

This is my sister hanging upside down from the top of the dome, scraping away old paint. With a big smile, my sister led the exterior painting crew. It was an incredible treasure of an experience to do this project with my sister. We both lived in an orphanage for 5 years and this experience was surreal to both of us. We came back home to the US with bigger perspectives and gratitude.

Lastly, I'm so thankful for every person who made up the first group on our first orphanage remodel project. I am so proud of each person and happy to call them friends. In Part 2, we will show you some of the amazing places we explored in Guatemala during our stay.

Our desire for all the trips is for our teams to have an opportunity to serve and to enjoy the beautiful culture of Guatemala.

Live beautifully and generously,

Ariela Bakken


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