Saying Goodbye to Old Friends

Today the Highland Partners team said goodbye to the service group from McGaheysville Virginia, which had come for one week to build thirteen stoves in the community of Manantial. Among the thirteen group members, Highland Partners had the distinct pleasure of working with many volunteers that we already know. In fact, the leader of the group, a woman named Marilyn Blagg, was completing her ninth service trip in eight years. Her friend and co-leader, Lorraine White, came back for the eighth time in seven years. I had the opportunity to chat with the two friends, and they explained to me why they keep coming back. “I believe so much in what AMA (Highland Partners) does with indigenous women that I am constantly motivated to share it with people from the U.S.,” said Blagg. “This trip has become a personal hobby, and each year I dedicate myself to recruit as many fellow volunteers as possible.”Blagg’s words are encouraging. The Highland Partners team knows that our work with the indigenous women of Quetzaltenango is dependent on those who believe in our mission. However, it’s not just Highland Partners’ mission that attracts the attention of volunteers. The experiences that the volunteers from McGaheysville had formed the strongest connection, which they will never forget. The McGaheysville group met with great success in regards to their work in the community of Manantial, working for four days and forming relationships with the women of the community. As always, the exchange between the volunteers and the local people inspired many emotions within everyone. “There is so much that we take for granted in the U.S., and so many things in this world that matter far more than the little worries in our lives,” said Wingert, a pastor who was traveling with his 12 year old grandson. “The lifestyle here is really different, it’s certainly changed my perspective and I’m sure I’ll see things differently when I return home.”Wingert told me that he’s already planning on returning next year, and even has plans to learn Spanish while in Virginia. This is how we know that we are not only having a positive impact on the indigenous women, but also on the lives of the volunteers.

The AMA and Highland Partners teams want to thank everybody that keeps coming back year after year to work in the indigenous communities of Quetzaltenango. Together, we have improved hundreds of lives and remain hopeful that the coming years will see the improvement of many more.