You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s better to give than to receive.” Andy Kim is living those words through his giving spirit to a poverty-stricken village in Guatemala.
With TSA’s Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, Kim oversees TSA.gov and employee web and mobile communication systems. But he is especially excited about his 20 years of work in the mission field. Twice a year, Kim travels with members of his small Korean Baptist church to a remote area near Cobán, Guatemala.
“We roll up our sleeves to make home improvements,” he said. “A lot of houses don’t have lights and lack clean water. A lot of people have stomach issues because of the dirty water. So, we give them filters, and we bring them solar systems that provide lighting for their houses.”
In Guatemala, Kim works with a missionary friend to provide a helping hand to the people in need. His church group also makes scholarships available for kids to go to school.
“Cobán is a decent size (approximately 250,000 population), but if you get just 15 minutes from the city, the roads are really bad,” Kim said. “Their village is a mountain. You actually need a 4x4 to get there. That’s why the kids living there cannot go to school. There’s no school in that area. They would have to go to school in a larger town. We’re giving scholarships so kids can go to middle and high school.”
Kim explained that the money allows children to ride in an open truck to school, but he noted most children who are able to get an education don’t go to school after the sixth grade.
“Just living in the United States, I am so blessed,” said Kim. “I’m trying to share my blessings with the Guatemalans. It’s a very humbling experience. You think you’re going there to help them out, but I get more blessed by just being there with them. How wonderful it is to help other people.”
Kim’s church group also gives college students an opportunity to leave their homes to attend a retreat. “They cannot afford much, so we bring them to a nice place to educate and motivate them so they can go back to their village and do God’s work.”
Despite their poverty, Kim said the people there are happy. His group also delivers food and toys to the Guatemalans, including clothes, backpacks, and laptops for use in school.
“They are grateful,” said Kim. “Their lives are very hard. They’re surviving to eat something every day. They’re surviving to just have a house. When we go there, we share our love with them.”
In addition, he also served in missions in Venezuela, Mexico and the Dominican Republic and expects to continue lending a helping hand in other countries. When he retires, he plans to spend longer periods of time in Guatemala teaching people English and computer skills.
“Just the fact I’m giving something, I get more – and I receive more,” he said. “Giving is more of a blessing to me.”