Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland made her third trip to Guatemala over the summer in support of the Nashville-based Shalom Foundation. While in Guatemala, Jennifer and Sugarland documentarian Valarie Allyn Bienas shot footage of the community for an upcoming documentary short.
The Shalom Foundation is a humanitarian aid organization dedicated to providing assistance to children and their families living in extreme poverty. The organization focuses on providing services in four key areas: medical care, nutrition, education and community development.
“I don’t want this to be in my words, ’cause it’s not my story,” Jennifer said of the documentary. “I wanted to interview these people whose lives had been affected. It’s their story to tell, and I feel like we are honored by them sharing it. I just want to be the person who goes, ‘Listen!’”
In June, Jennifer had the opportunity to visit Shalom’s new hospital, The Moore Pediatric Surgery Center in Guatemala City. The hospital’s construction was made possible thanks to money collected through Sugarland’s four-year practice of donating one dollar per ticket to Shalom. While visiting, Jennifer also renewed friendships with local families receiving housing and education assistance from Shalom.
Jennifer is currently focused on Shalom’s Medical Program. She is working with the organization to launch a women’s health initiative project and will share more details in the months to come. Jennifer recently had dinner with Bono and the leaders of the ONE Foundation before U2’s concert in Nashville, where she was able to discuss the work she is doing with Shalom.
“It was an evening of allowing different people to talk about the causes that they are currently championing, with the hopes that they could cross-pollinate,” Jennifer said. “Bono is rocking it. He recognizes the power of one – no pun intended – within a community.”
With the upcoming documentary, Jennifer has a simple goal in mind. “I hope to inspire people to action, either in support of Shalom – if they are blessed with the resources – or within another organization that supports their community or the world,” she said. “I think ideas are contagious. Wouldn’t it be great if something positive caught on and was communicated among people that started a big fire?”
Watch a preview of the documentary.