May is always a busy time for Long Way Home crew and volunteers. The long rainy season is about to start and we do a lot of work to prepare the construction site for the deluge. This year we have been fortunate to be able to hire nine additional local Guatemalan workers to help us get ready. Recently I was shooting some footage for a campaign video and our students were telling the camera, "Nos encanta nuestra escuela" (We love our school). Our workers were also part of the shot and after the kiddos ran off, I got to catch our workers making the line their own (see short clip below). We hope to find funds to keep the extra workers on for another month...every day makes a difference when prepping for The Long Wet!
As Director of Operations for Long Way Home, I have a lot to be grateful for: friendly neighbors, highly capable staff, energized volunteers, generous donors, freedom, learning opprotunities, cultural exchange...the list goes on. By far the biggest perk of my job are the smiling faces of our Técnico Maya students. We now have 25 students from 2nd - 5th grade onsite Monday through Friday. I used to have to walk to the old school when I needed a recharge from the hug brigade; now I simply walk outside. From my office I can hear a wonderful addition to the sounds of power tools: children singing and reciting lessons. When my internet breaks down or I feel overwhelmed, the sounds of children's laughter is the perfect antidote. I want to give a heartfelt thanks to the donors and volunteers who have brought us this far. When I started with Long Way Home in March of 2010, the thought of having children in the classrooms was just a dream. With your help, it's become a reality!
As we near the mid-point of 2012, I'm excited to report that we are making great progress toward our goal of opening the entire school for the January 2014 school year. We've had setbacks, yes, but we've never lost focus. The current Técnico Maya students seem very happy in their new "digs" and we are so excited to build their capacity to serve even more children. In recent months we've added new staff and new board members who have increased our capacity and our drive. As I prepare mentally for the grey skies, I salute all those who brighten up my day and the future of this magical community.
PS - Stay tuned for our 2011 Annual Report. It will be available online shortly.
Three weeks that I have joined the Long Way Home team, what a wonderful experience!
I am an intern from Belgium, I am going to stay in San Juan Comalapa for three months, and day after day I can see how the staff and the volunteers are motivated. In three weeks I saw the landscape changed, the building goes very fast... When I read previous reports, I can just recognized the progress made by the NGO.
I had seen how was the site before and I think that Long Way Home does a great job. Before my arrival, in early January, the NGO was pleased to open its first classroom that welcomes children of 4th and 5th grade. The building just goes on: the earthbag building, the art room, the retaining wall, the guard shack: all the site has great step forward.
I was pleasantly surprised by the methods of construction, the NGO has combined ecology and building in a surprising way. Tires, trash bottles and bags are very useful for the building's structure. Of course, it is a work of recycling, but it is also a way to preserve the environment. On Earth, we have a lot of waste, Long Way Home is able to use them effectively.
I think joined the LWH team is an rewarding adventure. And I am pleased to take part of this adventure. I want to thank all donors who, in some way, act in favor of this project. Thanks to you, 2011 was a wonderful year, and 2012 is ready to be also a great year.
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.