By Jenny Pope
(ANTIGUA, Guatemala) — Guatemalan First Lady Wendy de Berger and other government officials gathered with staff from Buckner International Nov. 30 to celebrate the newly-constructed dormitories at the Manchen Girls’ Home in Antigua.
The three new dorms, each with separate bathrooms and showers, are a first for the more than 60 girls and teenagers living at the government-run orphanage. Before these were constructed, all the girls slept in one large room and shared a bathroom.
“The new space is so much bigger, it will help them to be more comfortable,” said Manchen director Eva Garcia. “It will show them how to live properly. It will also encourage them to want to work when they grow up, to have the things they have here.”
The construction project was a joint effort between Buckner International and the Guatemalan government, spearheaded by the First Lady and the Berger administration.
“It took a while to get this project off the ground,” said Randy Daniels, vice president of Global Initiatives for Buckner International, “but it was worth the wait. It’s gorgeous.”
Buckner focuses on providing basic needs for orphans and at-risk children and families worldwide, often as a first step to make a lasting impact in forgotten communities.
The construction project at Manchen was an important project, Daniels said, because it will help build the self esteem and self worth of girls who will probably remain in institutionalized care until they age out at 18.
The project also helped solidify the working relationship Buckner has with the Guatemalan government to further improve childcare policies and programs nationwide.
“We’ve been dedicated to help Manchen since we started in Guatemala five years ago,” Daniels said. “We have many groups who have developed loving relationships with these girls. It was just obvious to us that we needed to improve the space.”
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