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Tag: volunteer

The Land That Time Forgot

Sandra Levins, a Konojel partner for the last 2 years, recently wrote about her recent trip to San Marcos, in which she and her team brought donated goods from the Iowa Conference United Church of Christ.

“San Marcos la Laguna on Lake Atitlán is like the land that time forgot. There is a weird combination of the ancient and the modern. Here they fish in dugout canoes made from hollowed tree trunks and scavenge for firewood, but almost everyone has a cell phone. The women dress in traditional clothing and many weave their own fabric on backstrap looms in the early Mayan tradition. The language spoken in the home is Katchikal, but when the children enter school they learn to speak Spanish. Then we gringos came along and out of necessity some, but not all, became trilingual. In my grandson’s school, every lesson is taught three times: in Katchikal, Spanish and then English.

Mother Theresa said that each one of us is merely a small instrument. When you look at the inner workings of electrical things, often you see small and big wires, new and old, cheap and expensive. Until the current passes through there will be no light. That wire is you and me. The current is God.

Let us continue to light up God’s world and change lives.”

Read about Sandra’s visit and experience on her church blog.

Indiana School of Dentistry Partners with Konojel in 2016

The Konojel Community Center, a project of the All Together Foundation, is proud to announce a partnership with the Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) for 2016 in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala. IUSD has been offering an International Service Learning program in Haiti, Vietnam, Mexico, Kenya, Guatemala, and Ecuador since 2000. The goal of the program is to provide dental services and oral health education to underserved populations in response to their needs, and to partner with an on-site community organization to incorporate their assets in both service and learning aspects of the program.

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SUNY and Konojel

State University of New York Brings Sustainability to Konojel

Luz Porras, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, SUNY New Paltz

Luz Porras, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, SUNY New Paltz

I’d been living in San Marcos for close to two years, and running Konojel for about half that time, when I met Professor Luz Porras, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at my alma mater, State University of New York at New Paltz (SUNY New Paltz). While visiting my old stomping grounds one early spring afternoon, a friend in the Study Abroad office invited me to join a conversation practice session being held for a few of the class sections from the Department of Foreign Languages. After listening in for a few minutes, I was asked to introduce myself, and told the students and their professors a bit of my story. As a graduate of SUNY New Paltz, I’d earned my teaching certificate and used it to teach Spanish in at-risk areas of New York City. After explaining that I’d since moved to Guatemala, a faceless voice boomed from the other end of the table, and Professor Porras rose from her seat to learn more about how I’d gone from her department to her home country. So began the connection between Konojel and SUNY New Paltz.

 

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Volunteer Experience — “In Which I Am Proud of My Kid”

Jennifer Miller, who has been traveling the world with 2008 with her 4 children in tow, wrote a beautiful article about the experience her son, Elisha, had while volunteering at Konojel for 6 months.

“The Konojel building looks a lot better, Mom. The work days last week made a big difference. It just feels tidier. The ladies will unlock the kitchen soon and start cooking, they begin early. We feed the kids outside on the patio with long tables and benches. That’s where we do our activities, outside too. From the kitchen out back you can look up at Imelda’s house. I wave at her sometimes. Some of these kids this is their only good meal. Most of them don’t grow well because their nutrition is so bad. They think I’m a giant. That’s the house where the kid who tries to beat me up lives.” He offers that last part as an aside and I interrupt:

“Wait, there’s a kid that tries to beat you up every day??”

He laughs, “Yeah, but he’s, like, this tall,” holding one hand by his waist, “And he’s only teasing, he’s just a little scrapper and he likes to have a try because I’m so big. We laugh every day.” 

“Oh, okay. Just checking.” He chuckles and gives me his give-me-a-break-mom eye roll.

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Konojel — A Volunteer Project to Get Behind

A big part of long-term travel for many people is volunteering. Volunteering, no matter what you do, is all good, right? How can devoting your time and/or money to help people in need not be a good thing? You might be surprised to find out that many volunteering projects end up causing more harm than good.

A few weeks ago in this column, Jennifer Miller shared her disdain for short term mission trips. Some who read this article thought she was calling for an end to all types of volunteer trips, fundraisers, activities, and experiences, which is the furthest thing from the truth.

Today, Jenn is sharing a personal story about a project that she believes will leave a lasting impact on the community that she currently lives in, which is what we believe most people who get involved in this type of work hope to accomplish.

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Solar Sprouting at Konojel Community Center

Our friends at Semillas de Sol, Brennan, Juliana, Chaytanya and Ben, helped us build our solar dehydrator and oven .

“What if we could use the power of the sun to feed malnourished children in an ecologically and economically sustainable way? This was the idea that sparked the creation of our project with the Konojel Community Center.
We proposed to utilize one resource the Konojel Center had in abundance: the sun. We would build a solar dehydrator and solar oven on the center property.  Using the solar dehydrator, fruits and vegetables could be dried in-season and consumed throughout the year. Ovens are a rarity in these parts – almost all cooking is done over inefficient wood stoves. These simple solar technologies offered a fuel-free way to cook, bake, and preserve food.”

Read more about the process at the Semilla de Sol blog.