Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Full House

One of Manna Project International’s founding tenets is to foster communities of young adults and encourage them to use their passions and education in service to communities in need. In accordance with this mission, the organization has campus chapters at 11 universities which not only raise awareness for international issues and fundraise for MPI programs, but also that send groups of students to live and serve at MPI’s three permanent sites during their spring and summer vacations. 

This March, MPIG will host 2 groups of 10 volunteers from Vanderbilt University and University of Georgia who will stay with us for one week each. Later in June and July, we will have 8-10 summer volunteers who will live with us for 4 or 8 weeks.

This past week, MPIG and I were fortunate to have a taste of life with short-term volunteers as we were joined by five wonderful people who lived with us and helped out at camp. Hailing from Colombus, Ohio, Jason Kluk-Barany and Sean McGrew arrived at the MPI house after travelling throughout Latin America for the previous month. With no hesitations, they jumped right in helping with the Art and Sports programs at our summer camp. So helpful and energetic (they even cleaned our kitchen!), we were so sad to see them leave after a week.

Dana’s friend from Engineers Without Borders in Ecuador, Mark “Marco” Rohan, also stayed with us for a week. He is also on a month-long Central American vacation from his job as a mechanical engineer, testing weapons and completing system improvements for the Navy. Definitely a smart cookie, he assisted our Science program and even led his own class about water filtration. He left on Friday to climb the highest mountain in Central America, Tajumulco, with Dana and continue on with the rest of his adventure.

We were also fortunate to be joined by Chris Barry. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Chris currently works for the non-profit organization Hug it Forward dedicated to both the environment and education system in Guatemala. Normally stationed in the Alta Verapaz region, Chris came and helped run a special program at camp, in which we focused on the importance of recycling and environmental responsibility. The campers watched an episode of LIFE, did fun crafts with recycled bottles, learned about bottle schools and stuffed their own bottle with trash. At the end of the program, numerous campers approached Chris and us with questions about bottle schools and recycling. We were so glad to have Chris present to help motivate the campers about environmental stewardship.

Finally, our last volunteer Kate Bennett will be staying with us for a total of three weeks. After farming her way through Argentina with WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), Kate received a grant from New York University to research non-profit organizations working with indigenous populations in Guatemala. She is also writing a blog for, a website that allows non-profit organizations from around the globe to exchange resources and identify supporters and volunteers. Our 7th roommate for 3 weeks, Kate has brought a new spark of enthusiasm and optimism to the house. She has not only provided much needed manpower and energy for our summer camp programs, but she has also contributed valuable insight on upcoming projects and we are so thrilled to have her staying with us.
After five months of life here in Guatemala, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see our work through five fresh sets of eyes. The past week has really re-energized our mission, work, and general everyday life. To our five new friends, we cannot thank you enough, and we miss you! To all our future short-term volunteers, can’t wait to meet you. Insert cheesy friendship quote here, I can’t bear to choose just one.

Ginny and the MPIG team.

1 comment:

  1. I love to see all the connections you are making around Guatemala and Latin America. Great work!