Nina Jorgensen, founder
Twenty years ago, a 29 year old Pan Am flight attendant from Berlin by the name of Nina Jorgensen found herself without employment when the airline went bankrupt. While she still had free passage on several airlines, she made to decision to visit Guatemala – a random choice, which has ended up being a twenty-year “extended vacation.” Nina is an artist and a photographer, so she immediately began supporting herself by selling her artwork on the streets of Guatemala City. In her spare time, she volunteered at a local women’s prison, teaching inmates to read. Over time, she gained the women’s trust and a number of them asked if she would look in on their children – many of whom lived in the squalor of Guatemala City slums.
Some may describe Nina as “quirky” and a “free spirit.” But, everyone speaks of her compassion, particularly for those living on the margins of society. She eventually settled in the gorgeous, little village known as Antiqua, nestled beneath three volcanoes – one of which, Fuego, is still active. She quickly discovered, however, that on the “back side” of Fuego, an artist would have to paint a much uglier picture of Guatemalan society – villages where residents live in abject poverty – homes made of corrugated steel - dirt floors - no food, no clean water, no health care, no education. And so, she began reaching out to this “marginal” community through an organization she called Proyecto Vamos Adelante (the Moving Forward Project.)
Nina has an unusual approach. She makes a “compact” with her clients. If a mother will go to classes and learn basic hygiene, how to boil water, how to prepare healthy meals … if she will make certain her children go to school on a regular basis (and on time!) …. if she will take them to see a medical doctor, and not a witch doctor … she will, in turn, provide food and arrange quality health care.
Proyecto Vamos Adelante is the only NGO providing support to the indigenous community on the back side of Fuego. Through the years, Nina Jorgensen's work has expanded to twenty-four villages. And, it is making a real difference. She has been in the region long enough to see children graduate from school, get married and start families of their own – all living parasite-free, illness-free lives. Needless to say, her presence is larger than life throughout this region, because of the work she has been doing.
We are delighted to dedicate our 2018 Lenten Mission Offering to Greenwich World Hunger Association, who has been enthusiastically supporting Proyecto Vamos Adelante for many years. May our contributions help this worthy endeavor “move forward” into its third decade of service to the people of Guatemala!!