MPI Guatemala

MPI Guatemala

Today's post is from our friends at MPI Guatemala, and aims to give Nicaragua readers an idea of the great work going on at other Manna sites. Later this week, I will also be sharing a post from the Ecuador folks. Thanks for reading!

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 visit us at!

Board Announces MPI Guatemala

It's official! After many months of planning, publicizing, exploring, and re-planning, Manna Project is officially launching a third site in Guatemala! We are thrilled and we hope you will be a part of this endeavor. Below is an update from our Board of Directors:

The Manna Project International (MPI) Board of Directors is excited to officially announce the founding of MPI’s third international site, to be located in Chaquijyá, Guatemala. This expansion will begin this summer, in July of 2010, when Co-Site Directors Dana Zichlin and Kat Mueller, and an inaugural team of Program Directors, land in Guatemala to formally launch the site and begin programming.

The decision to approve the Guatemala site comes on the heels of an eight-week feasibility trip conducted by Dana, Maddie Jalandoni (Nica Program Director alum 08-09), and Chris Taylor (MPI Expansion Coordinator). During this exploratory phase, the team identified the site location, established promising partnerships with local leaders and laid the groundwork for MPI programming. Based on this preparatory work, we believe that we have found the right community, partners and team to start a successful new MPI site.

MPI's Guatemala site will focus on the 6,000 person community of Chaquijyá

Not far from Chaquijyá are the volcanoes Santa Maria (left) and Santiagito (erupting, right)