Volunteers return to Guatemala to improve the lives of the poor

They have seen the poorest of the poor. They have seen their investments of time, money and sweat make life better for people in rural Guatemala.

For at least a dozen years, brothers Harv and Larry Jubie have joined other Everett-area volunteers on service trips to Guatemala with the Hands for Peacemaking Foundation.

“We go because we make a little difference in the world,” said Harv Jubie, 69, who helped build schools during a trip to Guatemala in March.

It was the Marysville man’s 13th work trip to the Central American country that shares its northern border with Mexico. With the trips, he is a year ahead of his younger brother Larry, who has journeyed to Guatemala for 12 years.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes over the past dozen years, a lot of improvements over what they had,” said Larry Jubie, 64, who also lives in Marysville. “These are really poor villages.

“People have annual incomes of about $600 — the poorest of the poor,” he said. “Every day is a hand-to-mouth existence, getting water and firewood to burn. And every day, they’re out to get some food. They don’t eat every day. It really is hard.”

The nonprofit Hands for Peacemaking Foundation was founded in 1985 by Dr. Leeon Aller, a Snohomish family physician, and his wife, Virginia. Dr. Aller died in 2008, and his wife died two years later.

Traveling to Guatemala’s northwest highlands area, Dr. Aller was moved to help by what he saw there: malnutrition, tuberculosis, polio, and places without electricity or clean drinking water. He was persuasive in enlisting help from the Rotary Club of Everett-Port Gardner and from churches and other area organizations.

In the Guatemalan town of Santa Cruz Barillas and outlying villages, foundation volunteers have built a Mission House, the Aller Skills Center to help with work training, and many schools.

This year, Harv and Larry Jubie were honored as recipients of the Hands for Peacemaking Foundation’s Aller Humanitarian Award. The 2011 awards were presented at a foundation dinner and fundraising auction in late October at the Everett Yacht Club. This is the third year for the award, previously given to Virginia Aller and to Terry Earnheart, who has made volunteer trips and serves on the foundation’s board of directors.

Pete Kinch, executive director of the Hands for Peacemaking Foundation and a former Everett mayor, said the goal of the awards is to recognize local people who make a difference internationally.

“The Jubies are an excellent example of what the Aller award represents,” Kinch said. “Both have given of their time and resources to travel to rural Guatemala annually to build schools, establish mobile libraries and work with remote villagers.”

Through Rotary, the brothers have also traveled to Ethiopia in an effort to provide polio vaccine to people there. Here at home, Kinch said, Harv and Larry Jubie have given many hours to the Providence General Foundation, the Marysville Community Food Bank, and the YMCA, Rotary and Boys &Girls Club in Marysville. Both have been district governors for Rotary District 5050, which includes clubs from Everett to British Columbia.

The foundation is working to formalize the process of making the award selections, and Kinch said that next year he expects the search for recipients to be broadened. “So many people are doing so many great things in the international area,” he said.

They have been co- workers building schools in Guatemala, but the Jubie brothers did not work together before retirement. Harv Jubie ran his own construction company and Larry Jubie worked in banking.

In trips that last about 10 days, they are able to complete schools and reroof homes. Both plan to go back to Guatemala this March.

“When we first started going down there, kids only went to about third grade. They had to be out working, helping and providing,” Larry Jubie said. “Now we go to a lot of those villages, kids go to school maybe until sixth grade.

“I try to explain to people why we go down there,” he said. “They don’t understand why I spend my time out in these villages. Once you’ve gone down there one time, you have an understanding.”

“It’s a short time out of your life,” Harv Jubie added.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Learn more

For information about the Hands for Peacemaking Foundation’s work in rural Guatemala, go to www.handsforpeacemaking.org.

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