Campus Minister Daniel Kriegl Praises Dignity, Appreciation of Impoverished Guatemalans


Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

The core values of Notre Dame Academy consist of faith, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness and service and a key person in implementing these values is campus minister Daniel Kriegl.

Mr. Kriegl is the man responsible for the annual Canton and Chicago service trips, and he works hand-in-hand with various organizations to provide service opportunities for students all year round.

During the 2017-2018 school year, his service trip to Guatemala was cancelled due to safety concerns from the administration. Kriegl embarked on the trip himself and personally presented a donation from the families of the students who would have joined him.

“I always want to make sure that we are helping an organization that is actually making a difference,” said Kriegl in describing International Samaritan, the service group he worked with, an organization he sees as a beacon of light for many impoverished Guatemalans. “I have gone and seen their work and the people who live there love you because they know you are with IS.”

International Samaritan is a Jesuit organization that was established in Guatemala by a priest who saw a need for mission trips and service in the area.

The program primarily builds schools to provide opportunities for children in poverty-stricken towns.

“I think that’s the biggest thing that is so shocking about this trip. Something that may seem little here [the US]  can go so far and make such a difference,” said the campus minister.

Kriegl spent time in Escuintla, Chinautla, Guatemala City and Antigua. Escuintla is 40 minutes away from Guatemala City, and about one thousand people call it home. The town is sustained by a garbage dump that the citizens dig through everyday in search of recyclables and valuables. Some families attempt to farm, but they have little knowledge of how to be successful at it.

The Notre Dame volunteers would have worked on the school being built by International Samaritan. The school is functional although it is not complete, and the children of the town go to school half the day and help their families in the garbage dump for the remaining half.

“They walk with dignity; they are not ashamed,” said Kriegl.“There’s something really powerful about their strength. They are like, this is what we have to do because I was born here. It makes you wonder, ‘why was I born here in this life?’”

Chinantla is a city similar to Escuintla in size but their perils are slightly different. Trash from Guatemala City had made its way into their water supply making it unsafe to drink. It was there that Kriegl met Manuel, the foreman for International Samaritan.

“I’m honestly convinced Manuel will be a saint,” he said.   Manuel worked in construction until he came into contact with IS and decided to use his skills for service.

“Manuel talks to all the people and decides which families need the most help. He’s incredibly loved by the people because they see how much he truly cares about them.”

It was Manuel who received the generous donation from Notre Dame families. Chinantla has a school built by IS, and Manuel hopes to build a hospital there in the near future. “None of them have cars so a hospital would change their entire way of life.”

Kriegl exchanged bracelets with students in Chinantla and was touched by their appreciation. “I’ve learned that something that’s their own, no matter what it is, but their own possession, means so much to them.”

He brought home bracelets for the students who would have accompanied him.

This is only a surface look at Kriegl’s life-changing trip, but his door is always open for any student who is curious about the experience.

As for future out-of-country service trips?

“Right now I’m waiting for the go-ahead to plan another trip with International Samaritan, but if you are interested, email me. That way I can present a list of interested students when I am proposing future service trips.”

Kriegl is thankful for the opportunity to serve the less fortunate and the opportunity to spread awareness of injustice in the world.