Long Way Home, Inc.

Long Way Home is a non-profit organization that uses sustainable design and materials to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment and environmental stewardship.
Dec 14, 2016

Designing solutions and building community

Admin Building - first level with window frames
Admin Building - first level with window frames

My name is Sean MacNab and I’ve spent the last 3 months as an intern and volunteer working with the whole crew here at Long Way Home. I’m currently a senior at Wentworth Institute of Technology where I study Industrial Design (also known as Product Design). I came to Comalapa through the suggestion of a professor and the support of countless friends and family that helped me to fundraise my volunteer dues. With an interest in green-building, recycling and sustainable development, being here has been an amazing experience for me, not just through volunteering and watching the progress of the school, but also through being a part of the friendships and community supported by the entire project.

My work here started with helping with the tire-wall base of the cafeteria and science lab, just some of the almost 15,000 tires that have been utilized throughout the campus. The building itself is one of the final constructions on campus that during my time here has progressed from little more than a hole in the ground to the base of a huge structure, with the window forms now being added.

Another building in progress is the library/computer lab, which I was able to help with the electrical wiring, and since then crew and volunteers have been working nonstop with the wall finishing. The large domed roof is filled with glass bottles which is both beautiful and lets in soft natural light. Recently solar panels were installed on the roof to help supply power to the campus.

The library also sits on top of the schools second cistern, which collects rainwater from the roofs that we then direct to a purification system, which is then bottled and placed around the campus. A daily process which I’ve been responsible for during my time here. Due to the lack of access to clean water in town, the purified water is important to insure the almost 120 students, as well as teachers, workers and volunteers, all can enjoy clean water throughout the day.

The onsite housing on campus is nearing completion as the crew installs the kitchen and windows. Like all of the other buildings on campus, the buildings are more than just shelters but filled with beautiful craftsmanship and artistry. The handmade windows and cob-based animal sculptures of the new housing and across the campus speaks to the skill of the workers here and how much they care.

I’m leaving Comalapa and heading back to Massachusetts, excited to be with my family and friends in time for Christmas. Still, leaving is bittersweet as I’ve also had to say goodbye to the Peren family who I’ve lived with for the last three months and all the great friends I’ve met, including local Comalapans, LWH staff and volunteers. Certainly one of the things I’ll miss most about being here is the community, which I was warmly welcomed into and which wouldn’t be possible without the support and hard work of the donors, staff and volunteers. 

Library/Computer lab with electricity and finishes
Library/Computer lab with electricity and finishes
Sean and his adopted family, The Peren
Sean and his adopted family, The Peren's
Sean setting up his invention to recycle cans
Sean setting up his invention to recycle cans
Sep 19, 2016

Homestretch to Completing Construction

8th graders performing a dance
8th graders performing a dance

Hola from San Juan, Comalapa! My name is Ashley Kravetsky and I am one of the newest members of the Long Way Home team. In February I came down and volunteered for just a couple weeks. The work and people in the community made it impossible not to come back and be a larger part of this amazing organization. I have been down here for just over a month now, and it’s so amazing to see all the changes that have happened in the 5 months I was gone.

The computer lab walls are being completed and they are working on the finishing work for the volunteer/staff housing. These buildings were merely skeletons when I left in March, and now are really on the last stages of work. Some of the workers have really shown their creative sides. The welding work for the railings are so gorgeous and they have created the most beautiful lampposts to go outside the computer lab. Every feature in construction has personal touches and you can really see the skill that every worker has gained while being here. They have broken for our administration and cafeteria, which also happens to be the last structure planned for the completion of the school! In the month I have been here, they have fully excavated and already created the foundation of this large, two story building. It looks completely different from week to week, and it’s very exciting to watch the progress.

I am a nurse and I have been working on creating education for the staff and students as well as being present for medical concerns or emergencies. Ensuring there are adequate supplies for medical emergencies or issues is a constant job for me. Even small issues can become serious concerns when not properly treated. I have spent time educating the mothers working in the breakfast smoothie program. Our hope is to give them a better understanding as to why we have been using supplements and vegetables in the smoothies, rather than just fruit and sugar. The teachers have noticed that the children are less sick this year, and are very happy that the children seem to really benefit from their morning snack.

Since the resignation this summer of our long-term dedicated staff member, Genevieve, we have had some staff changes, adding a new volunteer coordinator to the team. Ariel Wexler, comes from Los Angeles with a degree in Environmental Studies, is an incredibly bubbly person and has been settling into her new role with smiles and a positive spirit. Robin has moved into her new role in outreach as well, gearing up for our end of the year campaign and the completion of the school itself. With our #Homestretch campaign as our most successful fundraiser to date, we only look forward to raising enough to put on the "Finishing Touches" by February 2017. 

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) came and finished providing the town of Xiquin Sanahi with accessible potable water in 135 homes. Drew, who has been volunteering with Long Way Home for the last 6 months, assisted with the project by translating for the 11 volunteers that came and working on connecting the cistern that was created last year with EWB. They connected the cistern to every house with pipes and gave the people drinking water in their own homes for the very first time!

With the school year winding down, there has been lots of celebrations at the school and there is definitely excitement in the air. With the help of a few grants, we have started to get musical instruments in for the kids as well as equipment for the science lab. Everything is really coming together!

Thank you for your support! It would not be possible to have made it this far without gifts from generous people like you. We are so close, we can see it, to completing campus critical construction on our green campus and implementing an innovative curriculum for all the students at Tecnico Chixot.

All the best,

Ashley Kravetsky

Ashley helped design the sun-roof of staff kitchen
Ashley helped design the sun-roof of staff kitchen
Clean running water in Xiquin Sanahi!
Clean running water in Xiquin Sanahi!
Welding the lamp posts
Welding the lamp posts
Ariel with our female builders
Ariel with our female builders

Links:

Jun 20, 2016

Change in the Wind

One of our Kindergartners Enjoying Breakfast
One of our Kindergartners Enjoying Breakfast

Greetings and well wishes from San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala. My name is Taylor Bardecki and I am currently an intern at Long Way Home (LWH). I arrived in Guatemala at the beginning of May, and only have three weeks left until my time is up. I am a student at Florida State University, and was lucky enough to be accepted into an international program that assists students in finding internships across the world, which is how I found myself at Long Way Home. I really wanted to gain an understanding of how non-profits work and affect their community, and throughout my time here I definitely have. 

As an intern I have the opportunity to see multiple facets of the organization. I work both outside with the local employees doing construction work and inside with the staff members working on development work. In the beginning of my internship we had to tackle the instillation of a new leach field. The leach field is an alternative waste disposal method that is being used instead of a compost disposal. The field will help the bathrooms on the upper level of the school filter out waste and provide nutrients to the land. It took a lot of digging, patience, and hard work but now the bathrooms are fully functional. 

The construction team has been working on other parts of the project that include a new entry way to the school that will be wheel-chair accessible, new onsite volunteer housing, and a computer lab and library. The work site is constantly bustling with activity as the construction tasks are completed and students are running around all morning. With all the work being completed, Long Way Home has used over 400 tons of trash that would of been polluting the local environment and infrastructure.  Everyone has been extremely welcoming to the new interns and volunteers and are always happy to help us out with any difficulties or problems that we might have.

Additionally, I have been working closely with the Director of Development, Genevieve, on jump-starting our summer campaign, preparing grant applications, and organizing the smoothie (licuado, in Spanish) program. Our summer campaign celebrates how far we have come as an organization and how close we are to finishing the project here in Comalapa. If we meet our goal, Long Way Home will be able to have all of our critical campus buildings completed by the upcoming school year. The goal for this campaign is 25,000 USD, and already one month into our campaign we are 40% to our goal! What is really exciting is once we reach our goal, every dollar will be matched by a generous donor! We invite all of those from Global Giving to take part with us on this journey and help us cross the finish line. Please include the word "HomeStretch" in your comment box as you make a donation and we can get your generous gift MATCHED.

To help us with the campaign, Genevieve and I have been working to complete grants to give us that extra little boost. We look forward to seeing the results of these grants and the success that they will bring.

Lastly, the licuados or smoothie program has been going well since its inception, though as time has passed we have come up with different ways to make it more efficient. The licuado committee has been crucial in making the program function. The committee (comprised of our students' mothers) have recently decided to downsize the workforce and now two members a week prepare all 130 smoothies each day. They are now running the program with very little support from the foreign staff and it's wonderful to watch them take the lead and ensure success!

All in all, with more rains and winds, the bustling town of Comalapa has never looked any greener. With the help of the workers and staff of Long Way Home, the town is looking clean and fresh. Just in time for the town's feria next week! 

As I continue to work and learn with Long Way Home, I have come to have a greater understanding of how necessary support is to have this project continue and flourish. Thank you, for with all your help the organization is able to use self sustainable design and materials to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment, and environmental stewardship. If you have any questions feel free to ask! If you wish to keep up with our projects, feel free to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Best Wishes

Taylor Bardecki

Taylor Working on the Leach Field
Taylor Working on the Leach Field
Glass Bottle Skylights in the New Computer Lab
Glass Bottle Skylights in the New Computer Lab
New Volunteer House Coming Together
New Volunteer House Coming Together

Links:

 
   

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