As the Director of Administration, my involvement with Long Way Home has been long but remote; I’m a founding member and I have spent the past 7 years handling LWH’s state-side operations…until recently. After many years of short visits to our project site in Guatemala I finally had the opportunity to be in-country for a nice long stretch. October marks my sixth month as an in-country team member with Long Way Home and I couldn’t be more pleased with my new office!
As we slowly slip from the rainy season into the dry season, it is a beautiful sunny day here in the western highlands of Guatemala. Everything is green and lush, the surrounding fields are teaming with crops awaiting harvest, and the rains have provided much needed nourishment as well as music to fall asleep to under the rhythmic drumming on a tin roof. Of course, work marches on, even in the rains, and so much has happened over the past few months; the changes are evident while strolling around the constructions site.
Most recently as been our continued work on Aula 0, which as some of you may know, took a hit earlier this year as a result of some untimely, unseasonably heavy rainfall. While our structure, which had not yet been fitted with the complete water deferment system, took a beating, our spirits did not! After a little regrouping we have made steady progress towards its completion. Aula 0 marks the first of 9 buildings that are Phase II of our construction of the school campus. This structure will become the art lab for our students and we are extremely excited about the way Aula 0 is shaping up.
Newly outfitted with a second floor, Aula 0 sports a variety of glass bottles, beautiful bamboo work, and enough aluminum cans to have earned the nickname “Aula de latas” (classroom of aluminum cans)…which makes us smile! While there is still plenty of work to be done before the art lab is complete, we are making progress daily and it is amazing to see how much can change from day to day.
Another big change that has been unfolding over the past month has been the beautification of the vocational buildings. We all love the fact that our school is being constructed out of trash and part of our goal is to make sure that people recognize that trash can be made into something beautiful. We also want our kiddos to have a fun and pretty place to learn. To that end we have been busy adding the little touches that make this one of the prettiest construction sites I have ever seen.
Our vocational buildings have received some “blush and lipstick” that has transformed the tire structures into works of art….literally. The process has been accomplished with the help of many volunteers and the artistic skills of Magdaleno, one of LWH’s Guatemalan crew members. The vocational buildings reflect elements of the rich Mayan culture of our community, educational aides in the form of maps of Guatemala and a portion of the globe, and stunning glimpses of birds, flowers, crops, and tools that are ever present in the day to day activities of our work.
Visit us on site and you will witness a hustle and bustle that seems to never end….even when the work day is done. Our team invests countless hours cultivating new ways to utilize what others have tossed aside as worthless; we thrive on the challenge, we enjoy the thrill of pushing the envelope and we take pride in innovative results. It is really fulfilling to finally be on-site to see, first hand, all of the elements in play, working together to move toward a common vision….and a very beautiful one at that!
PS - In August we hosted a film crew from Germany's Deutsche Welle. Click on the link below to view the segment.
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