Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Living in Mano de Leon

We went to live with a community off the grid (without electricity) for a few days. It was amazing to see my change in perception of what is substantial in life after living with these people for a short period of time. The families in Mano de Lon, Guatemala (the community we lived in) have a limited array of things they can do. These families have to shelter in their homes at around 7 pm. As the sunlight disappears, their lack of electricity limits the amount of things they can do, and everyday activities, such as cooking, become hard and even dangerous to do. On top of that, since the community is in a place of high altitude, it rains a lot which provokes the families to shelter even before nightfall. Given the social and economical conditions of these families, their life seems simple; the men would go work on the coffee plantations while the women stayed to prepare the meals, buy supplies, and take care of the family.

My experience in this community was double sided. I got to see some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen in my life and got to live with children that portrayed pure happiness. On the other side, the educational conditions of these people were very poor or not existent. The only teacher for this community would not show at times, and when he did, he ran a class where the children did not learn much. When under shelter, we did our best to teach and reinforce some of the subjects learned by the children in our host family which gave us an image of the poor education these children recieve. It is hard to understand how a child can live happily in these conditions, there were times the rain cooled the temperature and all the kids had  was a pair of thin, plastic sandals to cover their feet. But this cold did not seem to affect them as they always kept a smile on their faces.

Living with this community taught me the importance of electricity in a household and made me proud of the labor i’m doing so these families can have solar electricity. Cooking, cleaning, and plainly living under candle light not only damages their vision, but also endangers their health and limits the children’s ability to learn. Many of the families we talked to had experienced burns, or even fire in their households just for trying to see with candle light. Living with this community encourages my effort to keep trying to make an impact on people’s lives as the improvements that can be made through our company are extremely significant and practically immediate.