A NOTE FROM GLOBALGIVING:
This is the second in a series of snapshots about project leader Matt Paneitz and his organization Long Way Home.
Thank you for your continued support of Matt and his tireless dedication to providing education beyond 8th grade to 50 Maya children in rural Guatemala. We ask you to contribute again today! Feel free to tell your friends about Matt and his incredible work!
Our House, In the Middle of Our Street
Long Way Home staff members Liz and Adam Howland custom wheels to keep them dry and safe in the Guatemala Highlands. After seven months of hard work, Liz, Adam, and Matt completed the construction of a round tire house built using discarded car tires, plastic bottles, and soil-filled burlap bags.
The house largely consists of 250 rubber tires packed full with the dirt from old adobe mud bricks. For under $2,000 Matt and his team were able to safely use roughly 64,000 pounds of garbage as building material in this prototype test structure, which is 13 feet in diameter. Although Liz and Adam are a “long way” from home, they live comfortably and affordably in their ecologically-friendly abode.
Why Did Matt Name It “Long Way Home”?
The name Long Way Home represents the daily journey of a rural Mayan farmer in Guatemala. Traditionally, the farmer leaves home at dawn to till the fields, his young children in tow to provide the additional labor more valuable to the family’s economic survival than their education. Quite often, a family of ten might bring home a daily income of $3, eating tortillas with salt as the nutritional mainstay. As the sun sets, children, parents, and grandparents are regularly seen carrying heavy loads of firewood tied to their backs as they return home from a long day of work in the fields. The firewood is quickly consumed preparing the food that will sustain the family as they repeat the routine the next day. Long Way Home strives to break the cycle of poverty by creating educational opportunities, cultivating civic interaction, and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
Interestingly, LWH was initially funded from firewood that was cut and sold as a fundraiser by volunteers in Oregon during 2004.
Jauary 2009 ushered in the new year and a ground breaking for the Tecnico Maya School being built on two acres of land in the aldea of Paxan.
38 volunteers showed up for digging bringing shovels, azidones and wheel barrows.
Among this group we welcomed two groups of returning students from North American Universities.
Saint Benedict's College and St. John's University from St. Cloud, Minnesota retuned as did the crew from the University of Illinois at Urbana.
Also joining our volunteer staff is LEED cerified architect Erick Temple from Newton, MA. Ericka will be filling an "Architect in Residence" position until May 2009.
A '06 graduate of the Syracuse University School of Architecture Ericka hopes to bring community architecture to Comalapa. Ericka thinks Guatemala is a perfect social setting for this inovative architectural approach where the neighborhood is asked to be involved in the design process. She will also work closely with construction manager Adam Howland on final design decisions. We look forward to Ericka's work.
Three Long Way Home staff made an epic journey through all of North America bringing almost a ton of donated firefighting equipment, recreational supplies and medical equipment. These donations were driven over 4,000 miles in a trip lasting almost two weeks and driven by Matthew Paneitz ED, and new volunteers Ben Smith and Aaron Colvin.
The equipment and the drivers were greeted with a hero's welcome of a parade and banquet in their honor when they finally arrived. The equipment has already seen its first fire and Comalapan firefighters are most appreciative of this great community contribution.
A NOTE FROM GLOBAL GIVING:
Please welcome Matt Paneitz. He is a new project leader here at GlobalGiving and over the past few weeks we have had the opportunity to get to know Matt and the great work he does for his organization Long Way Home.
Periodically over the next two months we will be sending you snapshots about Matt’s life and work. We encourage your feedback about this new form of progress update so that we can provide you with the most interesting and relevant information possible about the projects and causes you support.
We thank you for your contributions and ask you to consider donating again to Matt and Long Way Home. Feel free to tell your friends about this incredible project!
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Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, and Build a School
Matt Paneitz and his colleagues at Long Way Home are currently working on the construction of a vocational school using recycled materials such as used car tires and trash-filled plastic soda bottles. The team broke ground in January, starting first with erecting a retaining wall out of used tires filled with dirt and eventually covered with a stucco exterior covering.
Matt has turned to the community to help him gather the “trash” used in construction. “Since starting our recycling program I have actually seen the small town that I live in become physically cleaner,” says Matt. “I have seen the children cleaning up trash in the streets rather than throwing more trash in the streets.”
With the funds raised through GlobalGiving, Matt has been able to hire a resident architect and eight local youth to serve as construction workers. The new school will consist of 14 buildings and will serve about 500 students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
This isn't Matt's first attempt at building with garbage. Please stay tuned for future updates to learn more about Matt's innovative construction background!