Blog Swap: Guatemala!

Every week you hear about what is going on here in Ecuador, but did you know that Manna operates three international sites in Latin America? Though all three sites are driven by the same mission, each site looks very different on the ground. This week you will hear from PDs in Guatemala and Nicaragua who will share their first hand experiences with Manna in their respective countries. Here is this week's guest blog from Cameron Roth of MPI Guatemala:

What’s up Manna friends, family, fans and followers! My name is Cameron Roth and I am a Program Director in Sololá, Guatemala. Today, I have the distinct pleasure of sharing a little bit of our life in Guatemala. For starters, we live in the town of Sololá on Lake Atitlan. For those of you who have never heard of this little heaven on Earth, allow me to turn to my good friend Aldous Huxley (the casual author of everyone’s favorite high school novel Brave New World). Mr. Huxley describes Lake Atitlan as [Lake] Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing." Mr. Huxley, I agree with you.

However, Manna Project is about collaborating with and helping target communities abroad, not just living in beautiful places (although it is a plus). Our programs differ from those in Ecuador and Nicaragua as we run all of them through two schools, Central and Cooperativa. In Chaquijyá, about twenty minutes outside of Sololá on the Pan-American Highway, we work with kids teaching English, giving health talks, and working on environmental awareness. In Guatemala, English is a government-mandated subject, but as you can imagine most rural teachers do not speak a word of English. So we teach in La Primaría, which is 1st – 6th grade, and give English classes to 3rd – 6th graders. In addition, we offer after-school English for advanced and/or motivated students, and Teacher’s English so that they can begin forming their own curricula. Our health talks consist of preventative health measures such as proper dental hygiene, the importance of washing your hands, and good nutrition. Additionally, we are collaborating with women in the community to make soap from household items to provide it to the schools. When school is out, as it is right now, we run an educational summer camp as well. Easily the most fun part of the year, we have science experiments, sports tournaments, dance-offs, art projects and of course the daily game of cat and mouse.

Finally, we have just broken ground on construction of a four-room addition to the Central school. However, this addition is not your run-of-the-mill construction. Instead, we are constructing a second floor with plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash from the community. Each bottle holds about a pound of trash, and we plan to use about 13,000 bottles, so let me do the math…carry the one…that’s 13,000 less pounds of trash burned or thrown in a landfill! Wowzers!

Yes, life is wonderful here in Guatemala. I encourage all who have the opportunity to come visit the beautiful Lake Atitlan and the authentic Maya communities surrounding the lake. Every day, as we soak in the beauty of the “land of eternal spring,” we are reminded of how lucky we are to be here. The people are warm and passionate, and accept us although we may be a little bit different… and a little bit taller. It is a pleasure to build relationships and work together with the people in Chaquijyá.

To keep up with the MPI Guatemala team follow our blog at!