Assembling water pipes and digging trenches may be work to some, but for senior Madhura Manjunath, it was a life-changing experience.
Last year, Manjunath traveled to Honduras with Students Helping Honduras (SHH), a national student organization, partnering with nearly 100 universities and high schools, whose mission focuses on children and education in that country. As part of the service trip, the group assisted with construction work — helping to build water lines for local homes — but it was working with the local kindergartners that inspired Manjunath to return again this year with three fellow students.
“I have read lots of books that deal with poverty, and I have seen my share of it when I grew up in India; however, in Honduras, I quickly realized that being in the midst of such things personally is a completely different experience. During my service trip, I realized how much help is needed in this world and that help doesn’t need to come with huge muscles or a big brain. Sometimes just listening is enough,” says Manjunath.
From Dec. 30 through Jan. 6, Manjunath will lead several Wake Forest students with junior Leah Beachley, president of the SHH chapter on campus, on a service trip to visit a village near San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The group will help build an orphanage and visit and care for local children. Manjunath says she hopes students traveling to Honduras for the first time will enjoy the special connections that develop with the children—especially how their life of simplicity enables them to appreciate things deeply.
“These children have gone through so much,” says Manjunath. “Yet, they have such kindness in them. For example, on my first trip to Por Venir, Honduras, when it was snack time, one of the little girls at the school turned to me and offered me the first cookie she took from her packet. I don’t know what makes these children have so much hope, but they left me speechless.”
Manjunath is a history and biology double major and chemistry minor. The Office of Multicultural Affairs has provided financial support for Manjunath’s service trips. “For someone who has always wanted to go abroad and help those in need, this was a dream come true,” she said.