Above: Austin Kolden having fun with the young students in Guatemala. It was their bright smiles, despite having nothing, that drove him to continue serving by creating the Guatemala Education Project.
Austin is a senior at Trinity High School in Manchester, New Hampshire. In April 2013, he traveled with International Samaritan to Guatemala. The experience has stayed with him and he has started the Guatemala Education Project to support the amazing people he met during his trip.
What interested you about traveling with International Samaritan?
I have been given so many opportunities in my life that I wanted to give back. I wanted to try something new with international service, so when the opportunity arose to participate with my school I couldn’t pass it up.
What was the highlight of your trip?
The highlight of my trip was the shock that I was put in when we were brought through the garbage dump. I had never witnessed such poverty. You cannot compare the poverty in the United States to that of Guatemala. This was the highlight of my trip because it was an image that is now engraved in my mind. It makes me think twice about purchasing a “want” because I know that others “need.”  I have such a great appreciation for everything that I have.
What is the Guatemalan Education Project?
While in Guatemala, I learned that many children have to leave school and work in the dump at about 12 to help with family income. I appreciate my education and wanted the Guatemalan students to have the same opportunity. I started the Guatemala Education Project to help with this. It’s an online store that sells crafted goods made by the kids in their after-school hours. All profits go back to the kids to help with expenses. This helps keep them in school and out of the dump.
Want to support Austin’s project, the Guatemala Education Project? GuatemalaEducationProject.com is where you can make a direct donation to the school and students. In the very near future, handmade key chains will be available for sale by Guatemalan students, giving them a part-time job and keeping them from leaving school for the dump.