It has been a great year for Long Way Home here at the Técnico Maya school construction site. Our organization was named Small Charity of the Year by StayClassy, host of the largest philanthropic awards event in the United States.
We have also made significant strides on the construction site. Most notably, we have built a dry composting latrine out of bamboo and trash bottles, installed a rainwater harvesting system on our patio, and completed our West bodega. Currently, we are concluding the finish work on the vocational classrooms and assembling a lower retaining wall for the primary school classrooms. The hard work of our Guatemalan construction crew and dedicated volunteers is apparent when you watch the 200 foot long man made ditch on the east side of our property being filled with 15 layers of tightly pounded tires. As we continue to progress with the building project, the need for sufficient funds persists. By the end of the year, we plan to finish the lower retaining wall, begin construction of the upper retaining wall, and prepare the foundation for the primary school classrooms. In the ensuing months, we will complete the upper retaining wall and build the primary classrooms. Thank you for your continued support. Your generosity is helping change the lives of rural Guatemalan children, one bottle of trash at a time.
First of all we want to extend a huge thanks to everyone who voted for us in the BBC World Challenge 2010. We placed THIRD!! The $10,000 cash reward has enabled us to continue various projects at the Technico Maya Vocational School at a fast pace.
Since the last report the school has seen a lot of progress. We've put a roof on the patio of the first set of vocational classrooms. This roof gives us additional covered workspace, particularly valuable during the rainy season that is about to start.
Furthermore, our first permanent latrine is almost completed (pictured at left). It's fantastic to finally have real toilets on the site instead of using a pit latrine. The walls are made of plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash housed in a supportive structure made of bamboo. This structure contains 1,500 pounds of garbage that would otherwise be burned or thrown into water ways! It is a dry-composting latrine, meaning there is no need for water for flushing, and the human waste is collected to provide water and fertilizer for the organic garden and tree nursery. The latrine has been constructed with the help of a variety of volunteers, among them a group from Florida International University and George Washington University. Thanks to all who participated!
At the beginning of April the Guatemalan crew, Gringo staff and three volunteers took a trip to San Marcos, Lake Atitlan for one week to help build a structure with Earthship Biotecture. This trip provided the Guatemalan workers an opportunity to see another part of their country...most of them do not have the means to travel and none of them had ever been to the Lake.
Working with Earthship Biotecture gave us the idea to use more glass bottles on top of walls, a fancy feature we instantly applied on the ongoing construction of the vocational classrooms' center tool shed (pictured below). This tool shed has also been built in the last month-and-a-half. However, the roof is still missing and we are busy fundraising for the US $1500 to complete the roof and bond beam...hopefully before the heavy rains start.
Thanks to everybody who has supported us and to all the volunteers and workers at the site. You make this project happen! Stay tuned for more updates.
I'm overjoyed to report that the voting has finally opened for the BBC World Challenge!!! As Long Way Home supporters, I hope you will all consider not only taking a minute to vote for Long Way Home (A class apart), but consider spreading the word to your own networks. Voting is simple, you just click "Vote Now," enter your name and email address and submit.
The $20,000 cash reward and the spread in Newsweek magazine represent a huge opportunity for us here at Long Way Home. The money will pay for the construction costs for four of our eight primary classrooms. This represents a better educational environment for 80 children annually. We also hope to arrange night classes for adults in these same classrooms. And the publicity will help to ensure we can raise funds for the rest of the project. I'm beginning my seventh month working for this organization and everyday I become more convinced that my decision to stay was the correct one. Never have I been a part of such a dedicated, enthusiastic and talented group of people, both the Guatemalans and the Gringos. The warmth of this community and the overwhelming support for the school project touches me daily. If I ever get discouraged by little set backs, all I have to do is seek out some of the children like those pictured above and I feel energized all over again. I'll want to thank you in advance for considering supporting this project. It is a worthy one and we won't end with Comalapa. This model can be replicated any place there is dirt, trash and poverty...with your help we can make that happen. A clip of the full segment one Long Way Home is currently available and the full program should be available after it airs. We have been told it will air the weekend of October 9th. Please use this link to determine when it will air in your time zone. Click on the drop down to select your time zone and then scroll down to change the date to October 9th or 10th. As far as I am able to determine, we will be shown in each of the four "World Challenge" time slots. Thanks again, or, as my Kaqchikel neighbors say, "Matiox!"