HASTINGS - It was a desire to do more that sparked Chris Kummer's interest in a Guatemala volunteer trip. Kummer is an occupational therapist with Regina's Cardiac Rehabilitation department. Through the Global Fund program at Allina Health, she was able to participate in a one week trip with 22 Allina Health employees where they engaged in humanitarian efforts.
"It was a really great experience," Kummer said.
Kummer spent the week in Antigua, Guatemala, building a house for a Common Hope family, visiting a public government-owned hospital and other various projects.
Common Hope is a non-profit organization with the objective to help families stop the cycle of poverty by improving their lives through education, health care and housing. Kummer said many children do not finish school because they have to work in order to help their families with income. Common Hope helps keep kids in school while also providing support with health care and housing.
Kummer and the rest of the Allina group supported the mission by helping with a school supply drive, building a home, participating in social work home visits and other projects around the Common Hope campus.
One experience from the trip stuck with Kummer so much that she has decided to sponsor a child. She had the opportunity to visit a family who was going to be taken in as a family supported by Common Hope. Kummer visited their home, listened to their story and learned how happy the mother of the family was that her children would be able to stay in school. Without help from Common Hope, the daughters in the family probably would have had to get jobs in order to support the family rather than continue their education.
Kummer said it is about $60 a month to sponsor a child and to her it didn't seem like that much money when she found out how it could help.
"You are going to be able to keep a kid in school, clothed, fed for that," she said.
Aside from their work with Common Hope, Kummer said she had the opportunity to work with the Wakami women in a Dream workshop. Wakami is a social system connecting rural communities to global markets in order to generate income. The women Kummer met made handmade jewelry for a profit, which the organization helps to market and sell.
The group also visited a public hospital, which was interesting for them to see how a hospital in another country operates. Kummer said it was an educational experience.
"It's not at all like a hospital here," Kummer said.
There was one hand sanitizer bottle in the hospital and Kummer said they were very proud of it. A hospital official told the group that by improving their methods and hygiene, the infant mortality death rate has significantly decreased within the last three years.
Overall, Kummer said the trip was a positive one.
"I just think it's important to recognize that Allina puts this investment (into volunteerism)...it's good, an organization should do that," Kummer said.
The Global Fund program at Allina Health supports Allina's mission through volunteerism in communities around the world. The program provides up to $1,000 in funds to Allina Health employees to volunteer outside the Allina Health service area. In 2016, the Global Fund supported 159 employees on trips to 27 countries.