Holmen High School freshman Trevor Lebakken left Guatemala as an 11-month-old baby and never looked back.
But the 14-year-old is preparing to return to the country of his birth later this month for the first time. He’ll board a plane with his mom, Julie, on March 26 for what definitely won’t be an ordinary vacation. The pair are planning to visit three orphanages in Guatemala and bring supplies with them to donate when they get there.
“It’s a little scary,” Julie admits.
She speaks some Spanish but is bringing a translation app with her to fill in any blanks.
For the most part, Julie has organized the trip on her own. She said she’s gotten some help from a neighbor who lives across the street from their Onalaska home who also used to live in Guatemala.
“My biggest focus is for him to see where he was born, to see where he could have been at and see what his situation could have been like if we didn’t bring him home,” she said.
Trevor said he wants the kids at the orphanages to know that he and others are thinking of them and ready to help when they can.
“I just want them to know that there’s other people from Wisconsin that care about their well-being,” he said.
He’s distributed flyers around the neighborhood and set up collection boxes at Holmen schools, at Journey Lutheran Church in Onalaska and at Trinity Lutheran in La Crosse.
Trevor also has put a box on the front porch of the family home that he checks regularly to see what neighbors and others have dropped off.
He’s collecting school supplies like crayons, erasers and glue sticks, and also monetary donations so he and his mom can buy supplies in Guatemala to donate to the orphanages.
Julie has only been to Guatemala once before, and that was when she picked up baby Trevor.
She’s planning on renting a car in Guatemala and is working on organizing how to transport the supplies Trevor has collected from the United States to the orphanages.
One of Trevor’s passions is dance, especially when paired with a hip-hop beat, and he’s working on a dance routine he wants to perform at the orphanages. He’ll stay in Guatemala for about a week with his mom after flying out with her on March 26.
“I think it’s going to be an amazing experience for him,” Julie said.
Trevor also has set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations, which you can find at gofundme.com/guatemala-orphanages.