KINGMAN – Local teenager Madeline Swapp, 14, traveled to the Casa de Sion orphanage in Guatemala in February to deliver supplies and give her time to the local children in need.
Madeline is the daughter of Dr. Ryan Swapp, pathologist and medical director of laboratories at Kingman Regional Medical Center. Her maternal grandparents operate Casa de Sion, which provided Madeline the perfect opportunity to serve.
“It was neat for her to have an opportunity to see what’s going on in a less privileged part of the world,” said Madeline’s mother, Jennifer Swapp. “From a parent’s perspective, it was really rewarding to see her plan this project and then go and spend time with these children as if they were kids in her class. She saw no difference.”
Before the trip, Madeline, then 13, began a donation drive in order to obtain much-needed supplies for the orphanage. The main donation item collected by Madeline was baby formula, which led to Casa de Sion being able to bring in four more babies in need.
Madeline traveled to Guatemala with a few cousins and some friends. When they arrived, they got the opportunity to provide service to the children in the orphanage.
“We painted some pictures on the side of the school, and we also brought them a lot of toys to play with,” Madeline said.
Before she left on her trip, Madeline received the suggestion to record some audio of her experience. The suggestion was made by Dr. Lyanna LaFredo, a local pediatrician who donated much of the needed baby formula. Her husband, T.G. LaFredo, produces a radio show sponsored by KRMC.
“At first I didn’t really record anything because I thought it was weird,” Madeline said. “I told my cousins about it and they thought it sounded really cool, so I started recording.”
Those recordings created by Madeline turned into an entire radio documentary as part of LaFredo’s series “Focus on Your Health.” The documentary aired on two separate stations, the Arizona Community Radio Network, 90.7 FM, and KNTR, 106.3 FM.
A KRMC press release for the documentary said, “During the radio program, she shares her reflections on travel, her surroundings, and Guatemalan culture. She also conducts humorous and endearing interviews with her cousins, ages eight and ten.”
The documentary can now be found on LaFredo’s YouTube channel and at the bottom of this story.
When asked how people can help Casa de Sion, Madeline said, “Just donating can help. We have people who go down there annually and they can take supplies.”
The orphanage’s website, casadesion.org, also offers visitors a lot of different opportunities to get involved. From a “Volunteer Vacation,” to options on financial donations that benefit the orphanage and the kids, the Casa de Sion website offers a wide array of ways to help.
The Swapp family continues to look for ways to help out at the orphanage. Currently, Madeline’s sister Ella wants to help with a project of her own that will benefit the local Guatemalan children.
“We are trying to come up with a sustainable project for the orphanage that she can help with,” Jennifer said. “Maybe a library with a hired librarian is what we are thinking.”
Madeline is also ready to get back out to the orphanage to help again. When asked about when she plans to go and help again, she said, “as soon as possible.”