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Oak Grove holds memorial for Guatemalan teen met on mission trip who died in fire

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FARGO — Candles were lit and flowers set out Tuesday, March 14, as the students at Oak Grove remembered Rosa, a teenager the students got to know on a recent mission trip.

For years, the private Lutheran school in Fargo has taken mission trips to Central and South America. Over the weekend, Oak Grove officials learned a fire that killed 40 girls in a shelter in Guatemala, took the life of a 15-year old girl they had met on a recent trip.

"Rosa had nothing, she had nobody," said Bob Noel, an Oak Grove teacher.

Because Rosa had been abandoned by her family, she was in foster care in Guatemala, doing well. But the state moved her into an unsafe shelter, where she died along with 39 others in a fire over the weekend.

Since there she had no family, there was no one to say goodbye, Noel said at the service.

"No songs being sung. Nobody saying, 'We are going to miss you,'" he said.

So Rosa's Oak Grove friends held a memorial service.

"She had great dreams and was making so much progress, even though she had so much adversity she was working against," Noel said.

MariI Aaker, an Oak Grove student, said she'd had a few moments with Rosa, and learning of her death this weekend struck her.

"It was kind of a moment where I realized we need to be embracing our moments with each other and taking them in," Aaker said.

Oak Grove students started building a school in Guatemala in November. A Go Fund Me Site has been started to take donations for the projects, so the school can be named for Rosa.

You can also help the students at Oak Grove here, by donating.

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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