Spring is coming, I can smell it in the air. There is light and freshness on the horizon, but it has been a dark, cold and hard winter for me. I am hopeful and inspired by the future, but first let me share about our challenging times.

The pandemic has affected us all in different ways and these times have been hard for our organization. Manos Unidas Peru faced enormous challenges but so did we as a funding organization. We lost all of our volunteer travel revenue as well as 80% of our annual auction revenue. Due to these financial challenges, I am no longer in a full-time Executive Director position with MUI and was forced to seek employment. I dedicate Fridays to my beloved cause and hope that within time our situation will improve.

My immediate family has also been greatly impacted by this pandemic. My husband suffered a spontaneous lung collapse in December and was in the hospital for eight days, eventually undergoing surgery. He missed Christmas. They would not allow me in the hospital to accompany him and I had to advocate for him every day through video chat. This was non-Covid related, but scary to suffer a lung issue during a respiratory pandemic.

Peru has been devastated by Covid-19 and it hit our family. Thirteen of my husband’s immediate family members contracted the virus and we tragically lost both of his parents, my in-laws, who passed away within 8 days of each other. They were both active, working adults in the community. We later learned his mother was secretly preparing and delivering meals to some of the neighbors with COVID. May her soul rest in peace.

It has been personally very hard to be isolated from the people that inspire me—the Café youth, the children, the teachers and the community. The world shifted to virtual learning, but the lack of daily connection and inability to travel to Peru has been heartbreaking for me. But I keep chugging along.

These times have taught my family and I many things. One, that you can never plan life. Two, that our relationship with the earth is the essence of life. We have spent a lot of time in the forests, walking rivers and literally grounding ourselves to the earth. It has given us stability things seem out of control.

I write openly and vulnerably because as many of you have followed us and supported us over 10+ years, it is your right to know how we are doing.

My motto over the past year has been: “This is only a place in time. Things will change. “

As we feel spring on the horizon, I also feel change. I will embrace that change and keep advancing our mission.

Thank you for following us and caring about us.


Celeste Marion

Founder/ Executive Director

Manos Unidas International



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