English Party Turned Minga

This past Saturday was our last day of English classes for the third quarter. Since the celebration we had after our midterms was such a success we decided to have the adult English students over to the house after the final exam as well. Emily and Taylor’s nutrition students brought over ingredients and helped us with food preparations and we all had a great time hanging out, eating, and playing cards.

While sitting outside with some of the adults, talk turned to a little problem we were having at the Manna House. Our landlord hasn’t been pleased with the upkeep of our yard, specifically this one area behind the house where we dump our compost. During the rainy season the area has become severely overgrown to the point where we refer to it as “the jungle” and have been scared to go back there. He warned us that if the area wasn’t cleaned out ASAP he would send over his own gardener and it would cost us $200. We were planning on trying to take it on ourselves, when one of our students suggested we plan a minga. A minga is when members of the community come together to help out with a project when someone is in need. Well we were definitely in need of some help, and several of our Adult English students volunteered to get started right then and there. We insisted that they had come over for a celebration and didn’t need to spend the afternoon working, but they wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Walter and Guillermo were professionals with a machete, and within a half hour they had annihilated the jungle. It was a much bigger task dragging all of the plant remains out of there, (while ignoring the smell of rotten eggs), but we had plenty of help doing it. It was amazing to me how willing and helpful everyone was. The mother of one of my students, a woman in her 50s, was one of the first to borrow rubber boots and climb right in there. Cleaning the jungle was something we had all been dreading but with all the help we managed to make a huge difference in just a few hours, and we actually had a lot of fun doing it. While we were outside working in the yard the women from Charlie’s class cleaned all of the plates and dishes from lunch.  They amazed us all by getting the burnt rice off the bottom of one of our pots (one that we thought we would have to throw away). I ended the day feeling exhausted, a little guilty, and incredibly appreciative of our community members and friends. 

Taking down the jungle 

Walter, proud of his work

Gaston flexing while everyone else works... typical 

Two of my beautiful English students, Estefania and Lucy 

Emily raking up the mess