Latin America Leads the World in Happiness

Latin America Leads the World in Happiness

The Christmas season is a time of reflection and celebration for the One who gave us life, but unfortunately, this season often adds stress to our already stressed out culture. For years, cultural studies have proven again and again that our country is far from happy, and not just during the Christmas season. One of the main pressures Americans feel is financial pressure and job related stress, often times from not making enough or losing a job.

Despite being the richest nation on earth, the United States is, according to the World Health Organization, by a wide margin, also the most anxious, with nearly a third of Americans likely to suffer from an anxiety problem in their lifetime – America the Anxious – NYTimes.com

Other wealthy countries were proven to lack in happiness as well by a recent study. Germany and France tied with Somaliland for 47th place on the list of countries ordered according to positive outlook. The United States ranked 33rd.

Latin America Leads the World in Happiness

Contrastingly in Guatemala, a country less developed and with fewer financial resources than the United States, Germany and France, the people are reported to be some of the happiest in the world. A recent poll places 7 Latin American countries in their 10 top happiest countries in the world.

Some Latin Americans said the poll hit something fundamental about their countries: a habit of focusing on positives such as friends, family and religion despite daily lives that can be grindingly difficult. – Poll says Latin Americans most upbeat – USA Today

Latin America Leads the World in Happiness

Despite the recent study, there are still some critics who warn against reading too much into the findings of this ‘happiness measure’. They warn governments not to overlook the problems facing their country, even though they scored well on positive outlook. There are many problems that face many of the countries that scored highest on the positive outlook scale, and those issues need to be addressed.

It’s a paradox with serious implications for a relatively new and controversial field called happiness economics that seeks to improve government performance by adding people’s perceptions of their satisfaction to traditional metrics such as life expectancy, per capita income and graduation rates. – Poll says Latin Americans most upbeat – USA Today

Latin America Leads the World in Happiness
Even through the evidence on either side of the ‘happiness measure’, it only takes a few days in Guatemala to witness the happiness of the Guatemalan people. Maybe it is true that Guatemalans choose to look past the economic and societal problems to appreciate their family, friends and things that truly matter in their lives; a lesson everyone can learn from.

2012 was a year of adventure and blessing for Athentikos

2012 Athentikos Collage

We are grateful to be able to share the journey of 2012 with you:

  • Athentikos took a risk and began production
    on the Becoming Fools documentary without full funding, believing God
    would provide. As of December 2012, the film is 75% complete.
  • Athentikos was blessed with our first production intern, Brandon Rojano.
  • In June, Athentikos partnered with Guatemalan Churches, NGO’s, Local and Federal Government in a consultation event to explore homelessness and present an official report to the Guatemalan Government.
  • In June, homeless youth shared their story through a theatrical performance in front of over 400 people in Guatemala’s historic Teatro Abril.
  • Athentikos served on a leadership team with Lemonade International & Vidas Plenas to host an annual Art Camp
    for 100 at-risk kids in the community of La Limonada. Guatemala.
    Athentikos provided over 70% of the funding through individual donations
    and a grant given by LEGO.

Stories inspire change and hope. We are thankful to be
able to share these incredible blessings from 2012! They would not be
possible without you! Please help Athentikos continue to inspire through
the art of story by giving a tax-deductible gift of $50, $100, $200 or
more. Your investment will be exponentially returned as it inspires through the art of story throughout 2013 and years to come!

Thank you for believing with us and generously sharing your time, talent
and treasure! We are all part of this story to inspire together!

Help us inspire hope by giving a tax-deductible donation.

Please give online today or send a check to:

Athentikos PO Box 1902 Springhill, TN 37174

Thank you,

Scott & Amelia Moore

www.athentikos.com

Can We Have Your Trash?

Trash is not something many people want or collect.  However, Sweden imports waste from other countries and is now running into the problem that there is just not enough trash.  Sweden imports trash to turn into electricity and power, and because of their efficiency in converting trash to power and need for more waste, Sweden is now looking to other countries, asking the question…Can we have your trash?

Due to its efficiency in converting waste to renewable energy, Sweden has recently begun importing around 800,000 tons of trash annually from other countries.  Sweden creates energy for around 250,000 homes and powers one-fifth of the district heating system.   –The Two Way

Trash in Guatemala

Can We Have Your Trash?

As highlighted in 0ur first film, Reparando, Guatemala is home to one of the largest garbage dumps in Latin America.  Twenty-four football fields can fit inside the walls of the Guatemala City Dump.  1,500 tons of trash are delivered each day, that is enough garbage to fill 35 Boeing 737 planes.  The dump provides a source of income for a documented 11,000 workers, and many other undocumented workers.

Can We Have Your Trash?Guatemala has a different and equally as unique way of recycling their trash from the way Sweden has engineered.  During my 7-month stay I got to know the Guatemalan recycling process a little better.  Not only do people work in the Guatemala City Dump scavenging through waste when it arrives, but people accompany the trash along the entire route from the second something is thrown in the trash until it reaches the Guatemala City Dump.

Can We Have Your Trash?One day I visited La Terminal, an area bustling with buses and people coming and going and a wide variety of stores selling everything from fruit to handmade charcoal.  La Terminal is also home to many people living in extreme poverty.  We visited an area where waste from the stores and people was dumped.  I saw people quickly scavenging through the waste as it was dumped to find fruits and vegetables that could still be eaten.  My heart broke for these people who didn’t have the means to otherwise obtain fruits and vegetables.

Can We Have Your Trash?Considering the amount of garbage a country can produce, you have to be very creative in ways to cut down national waste.  Guatemala is no exception.  While in Guatemala, I have seen very innovative and impressive ways of recycling waste.  One of the most commonly used recycled products is plastic bottles.  Our partner organization, Lemonade International recently implemented the installation of solar lightbulbs made of recycled soda bottles in homes in La Limonada.  (Click here for the full story.)  Many other non-profit organizations have used plastic bottles to build walls for schools across Guatemala. (Click here for more information.)

Here in the United States, we recycle but not as efficiently as some other countries.  In the United States, where the EPA says 250 million tons of trash was generated in 2010 alone, only about 34 percent was recycled.  Looks like we should be taking notes!  In order to make a difference, each country world-wide must do their part.  Even though Sweden and Guatemala have well established methods for recycling, “We live in a world where nearly 70 percent of deep sea Arctic creatures are in contact with human trash like plastic bags and beer bottles.” – The Two Way

Micro-loans: Infographic Explains How They Change the World

Daily Infographic released a post about micro-loans and how they are changing the economic landscape of impoverished countries. This caught our eye because we saw micro-loans first hand during the production of Reparando. In fact, we even included a short as extra content  on the Reparando DVD that covers micro-loans and micro-financing. You can see a sample of that content here.

Micro-Enterprise from Athentikos on Vimeo.

But the infographic doesn’t portray all pretty roses for the micro-loans processes. It also shows how this opportunity for many in poor regions of the globe can be taken advantage of. However, it’s up to us to partner with these organizations who are advocates for this economic process to create and put into action the opportunities to make micro-loans and micro-financing a benefit that flourished among all countries.

The fact is, most microloans are paid back in-full. Small business is how most citizens of third-world countries make a living.

Read the full article here!

Micro-loans: Infographic Shows How They Change the World

Hot or Cold? Challenges in Any Weather

Hot or Cold? Challenges in Any Weather

Homelessness is a global problem.  Unpredictable and harsh conditions create unique challenges in each climate for people living without shelter.  Even the weather here in Tennessee can be challenging to the homeless population.

Although the specific focus of Becoming Fools is concerned with homeless youth in Guatemala City, but our hope is that Becoming Fools would inspire people to action in their local communities around the world.  With this blog, and many to follow, we hope to educate and encourage people not only in Nashville and Guatemala, but people in Michigan, people in Canada, people in Australia, Oregon, California and all around the world to join the movement in making a difference in this struggle.

Hot or Cold? Challenges in Any Weather

Hot or Cold?

Which is worse?  The freezing cold, or the sweltering heat?  I think even my Mom and I disagree on this question because everyone has their own preference and tolerance.  But which condition is more dangerous for someone living on the streets?  The answer to this question greatly depends on where you live.  Here in Tennessee, where we experience true seasons, both could be similarly threatening to those in the streets.  Nashville Rescue Mission mentions the often-overlooked dangers of extreme heat:

In contrast to those families planning summer vacations, the homeless are faced with survival concerns: how to stay cool and how to stay hydrated. The homeless can be particularly vulnerable to heat waves because they cannot easily take steps to protect themselves, such as staying in air-conditioned places, avoiding direct sun and drinking plenty of water. Some of those living on the streets might be under the influence of drugs, alcohol or suffering from mental illness and are not thinking clearly. Add this to heat and dehydration and you have a lethal combination.

In Howell, Michigan the United Methodist Church opens their doors to the homeless during the winter to provide food and shelter from harsh weather.  The combination of below-freezing temperatures and snow in Northern states present often fatal conditions.

Although each season presents it’s own unique set of challenges to people living in the streets, all require assistance.  Next time you adjust the thermostat in your home, think twice about what it would be like to not have one.  As Nashville Rescue Mission puts it, “Those with low or fixed incomes are also at risk. Many of them are forced to choose between eating or turning on their air conditioner”.