Project Update: Guatemalan Schools’ Water and Sanitation Project Complete!
In April and May of 2010, the Jacksonville Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-JAX) traveled to Guatemala to implement their first project as a Chapter. While in Guatemala, the EWB-JAX project team traveled to the villages of Xevitz and Xepiun, about a 7 hour drive northwest of Guatemala City, to improve the water and sanitation conditions at two local schools. The team helped design and construct flush toilets, hand washing stations, septic tanks, a drainage field, and a seepage pit. With a little extra time, repairs to the existing structures were also completed, as well as proper education on healthy hygiene and sanitation practices, water conservation, and proper maintenance associated with their new facilities.
Implementation of the Chapter’s design is an experience that is rewarding for both the team of professionals and the benefiting communities. This was many of the travel team’s first time to Guatemala and many of the communities’ first time seeing foreigners. It took some time for both to feel comfortable with one another, but in the end the team and the community formed a special bond. The local masons were even enthusiastic about educating the project team on their method of working. For example, when the masons were building the concrete walls for the latrines, they patiently taught the volunteers, the techniques for laying concrete block, mixing mortar, and measuring various parameters. The masons eagerly showed the volunteers how to efficiently tie rebar together with steel wire. Lynn Roberts, with Agua Para La Salud, even offered a small reward to the person who tied the most, raising morale and increasing the speed. The local masons won hands down. The community clearly took ownership of the improvements in their villages; they were just as proud of the projects as our professionals who designed the project.
Thanks to all our donors who contributed to this project and made clean water and proper sanitation accessible to the schoolchildren in these two villages of Guatemala. We could not have done this without you!
Below are some pictures of our trip!
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EWB-USA JAX President