Glen Galindo

Chinchiná, Colombia


„My mission is to bring the global community closer together by matching someone´s problems with somebody else’s desire to help. I want to connect people and create win-win-situations.“

On first steps

„Come up with a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Have a clear visualization. Then stay with it, persist on it. It’s not the strongest who win, it’s the ones with perseverance.“


former military commander, non-profit-founder and bridge-builder

„Travel with a purpose“. Four words, that attracted my attention when I was browsing through the projects on the volunteering-platform Ten minutes later, I sent a request to Glen’s Mingahouse in Chinchiná. He offered me a place to stay for as long as I wanted. He gave me access to his project and the chance to join his volunteers, to learn about their work and the issues of the locals. One of them is Ramiro Cardena. The hero, I’ve started a crowdfunding-campaign for recently. In three days Glen opened my eyes significantly wider and gave me insights about his amazing vocation of building bridges.

Moisés knows a lot about herbs. And the people of Chinchiná know Moisés. He is a herbalogist, but for the local community he is more. The residents approach him like a doctor and ask for his advice for almost any kind of disease. They trust him and his 150 different herbs he’s working with. But Moisés had a problem: all his knowledge was stored in his head, gained from decades of practice. Not reproducible. Not inheritable. Until recently, when this problem was solved.

„I volunteered at Moisés herb shop and helped him creating a catalogue of all his herbs“, tells 29-year-old Kang Ho from Denver, Colorado. Kang is a pharmacologist, PhD: „We went through all 150 different herbs in his store, he explained to me everything. How and how often it’s applied and what it does to the body. I added my medical background and my academic way of organizing knowledge to conserve what he knows. We combined his eastern and my western approach to medicine and came up with this catalogue. I learned a lot about herbs here. That was an eye-opening experience.”

„Kang’s work was very important for me“, says Moisés. „Now I have a well organized catalogue with all my products. That makes my life much easier.“

Volunteer Kang Ho and herbalogist Moisés

The person, who connected Moisés and Kang, is Glen Galindo.

He founded his project Mingahouse in 2013 to build bridges like this. „I’ve always been a problem solver. I wanted to find matches between one person’s problem and another person’s solution and create win-win-situations.“ He matched US-doctors and local hospitals. A physiotherapist from Costa Rica volunteered in a practice in Chinchiná. A veterinarian helped out at a dog farm. A philanthropist worked at „Mundos hermanos“, a house for girls, who got separated from their homes. Glen became the matchmaker for all different kind of people, even scout leaders, landscape architects and musicians. „Let me see your background, your interests and your experience and I’m sure I can find a place in the local community for you to get involved“, Glen says. With his work as a facilitator he makes two essential impacts at once.

First: He supports the locals with manpower, knowledge and experience from abroad

Glen gives an example: „The doctor here in Chinchiná gets knowledge transferred from a well educated US-student, that he might never have had access to.“ The impact on the local communities is remarkable. „Some people here have never seen a doctor before“, Glen tells. „For some of them we made that possible.“

Second: He broadens the horizons of the volunteers and adds significant value to their education

And vice versa: „A doctor from the United States gains experience in the Latin American health system. He gets perspectives from patients who see a doctor for the first time in their lives. This doctor will improve his skills in a diverse way and treat the patients in his own country with much greater understanding.“

Glen’s Mingahouse also helped Ramiro Cardona’s elderly home

Since 36 years, Ramiro cares for homeless people in his elderly home. He is not able to afford any staff members, even does the laundry for his twelve residents by himself. Glen not only supports Ramiro with medicine and other supplies, he also connected nurses from the United States with Ramiro. „This couple volunteered at my elderly home for one month“, says Ramiro. „They helped me a lot and made me very happy. It’s so great for me to receive volunteers here with professional backgrounds. I could never pay them otherwise.“

Read Ramiro’s touching story here.

Glen connected two nurses to Ramiro Cardona’s elderly home for volunteering. He could not afford staff like that otherwise.

Glen’s job is rewarding for him. And very challenging!

„Bureaucracy, the slow processes of logistics and administration make life hard sometimes. It´s a lot of paperwork and we struggle with the inexperience of the system here. We are new. The bank here didn’t even know how to transfer money from the United States. We start from scratch here in many aspects. You got to be very persistent to stay on course.“

„You need to learn to love to fail“,

Glen comes up with. „The only time you learn is when you screw up. Pay attention, because the learning is happening. Laugh it off, do it again, try another way, fail different. Change the picture!“

„Half of my life I spent trying to become a millionaire.“

Glen sought power, prestige and wealth. He tried it as a military officer: „I was a young man in my twenties, commanded hundreds of people and equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. That was fun. But luckily I found a better way to create my life.“ Glen founded his first non-profit-organization in 2002 and started working with migrants and seasonal farm workers. „After the divorce with my wife in 2005, I spent more time with my daughter – she was five years old by then. Julia Sophia didn’t care about a big house or a fancy car. She cared about playing with the cats and giggling around with her dad. Through her I became more minimalistic. She helped me become the man I want her to find one day.“ Julia Sophia just turned eighteen and graduated high school. Glen calls her his biggest motivation:

„I’ve always tried to teach my daughter that dreams can become a reality. By founding my non-profit-organizations I put that into reality. My goal is to create projects, make them become alive and stable, then pass them on and find a new project. My dedication here are five years. I will see, how far I can go.“

Two guys, who have good chances to inherit what Glen has created, are Jaidiber and Stiven: „They voluntarily helped me build up the Mingahouse from the very beginning“, tells Glen enthusiastically. „I had to hire them!“ Today, both Jaidiber and Stiven work at Mingahouse. Steven is an Assistant Team Leader. The 24-year-old was the one who showed me around in Chinchiná and introduced me to Ramiro Cardona.

„I want to help“,

Stiven shares his thoughts, „but I don’t have money. So my way of helping is to show visitors the different facilities, present them the contrast we live in. You need to touch the hearts of people if you want to change something. If they can get a round picture of the situation here, I think I’ve done a good job. This is my way of helping. I hope, one day I can do more.“

„All the world’s a stage.“

When I asked Glen about an advice for being succesful, he quoted Shakespeare, and explains:

“Life is a serious stage where you play serious roles. And just like a performance on the broadway, tonight could be your last one. It might be the only shot you get – give it your all. Make it your best performance.“

Interested in volunteering at Mingahouse? Check out the website.

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