| Oct 06, 2014
Excerpts republished with permission from Clark County Bar Association's July Hearsay Newsletter.
This past March, Mike Simon and Loren Etengoff from the Clark County Bar Association traveled to Guatemala on a volunteer MTI work team to build ventilated stoves. Here is what they had to say about their trip.
How did you get interested in going on a trip with MTI?
Loren: I had heard Mike talking about his trips to Central America... I casually mentioned that I
might be interested in going on a trip. I forgot about it until I got
an email from Mike about 6 months ago ... asking if I wanted to go to
Guatemala and build stoves. I
had no idea why one would go
to Guatemala to build stoves
(don’t stoves come from
SEARS) and why I, who can
barely hammer a nail, could
build a stove. However, I
asked Mike more questions
and decided that it sounded
Mike: An old scuba diving buddy of mine went on a trip to Peru with
MTI to convert an old jail to a medical center. I said the same
fateful words that so many other people have said: “Gee, I would
like to go on a trip like that someday.” The next thing I knew, I
was off to Honduras where we built latrines in a village up in the
mountains. Honduras is the second poorest country in the
western hemisphere after Haiti and it is very different from and
even poorer than Guatemala.
What was the experience like?
Loren: Like nothing I expected or have previously experienced. From
the concern/fear of having an armed escort with m-16 automatic
rifles while on the drive to the village along the washed out dirt
road hugging the side of a mountain to the humbling experience
of arriving at the village and seeing the entire village lining the
road and applauding as we pulled in.
The sense of community and the importance of family in the
village astounded me. Notwithstanding the extreme poverty, the
village was thriving. Parents loved their children, and did their
best to provide for them. They were willing to change the way
they had been doing things for many years if there was a chance
that the change would help their children.
Mike: Seeing the armed guards Loren mentions was not unique. There
are guns everywhere in Central America: outside gas stations,
banks, stores, wherever there’s money. In San Salvador,
neighborhoods hire security guards to patrol their
neighborhoods. If you don’t pay them, your house is burglarized.
I always remember the roads and the time it takes to get
anywhere. On our return trip, we went west from Chicamán on
a country road. There were houses scattered on both sides of the
road and every house had a speed bump the size of bowling
balls. We barely crawled over every one.
Ojo de Agua is at about 4,800 feet in elevation. And it was steep.
In one day in one short distance we climbed about 2,100 feet in
elevation going from house to house working. That was fun.
I especially enjoy watching the interactions of team members
with the local community... one day
Loren was showing the kids how to make paper airplanes. He’s
pretty good at it too. Loren’s son, Gabrielle, had one young lady
hanging all over him. We have a lot of pictures of that.
What did you bring home from the trip?
Loren: A sense of accomplishment. A closer relationship with my son as
a result of our shared experience. The confidence to step out of
my comfort zone. A greater understanding of myself. A desire to
go again. An idea of what I would like to do when I retire from
the practice of law.
Mike: I think you can tell that Loren and I are pretty enthusiastic
about the trip and we both plan on going back sometime soon.
We would both tell you that it is a unique experience and a very
valuable one. If you have any interest in going on a trip, let us
know. We would be glad to talk to you about it, which is
something we never grow tired of.