Help kids fight climate change with green building

by Long Way Home, Inc.
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Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building
Help kids fight climate change with green building

Dear Long Way Home community member,

2020 was incredibly challenging on our school staff and teachers due to the situation in Guatemala. They have shown how resilient they are, and it is reflected in how they have handled the current pandemic and the challenge of teaching kids and teenagers from very disadvantaged backgrounds. Teachers work hard to ensure a unique and quality education for our students. One of the biggest challenges they faced was how to continue delivering quality education when lots of students did not have access to devices nor internet to attend online classes. After a lot of community consultation and discussion amongst the staff, a decision was made to create a sort of blended method to continue teaching students in an individualized and personal manner as is done at our Hero School. 

Guatemala operates on a traffic color system, meaning as the colors of a traffic stop due in relation to rules for COVID-19. San Juan Comalapa has been in between orange and red for the past several months, and so the school made an executive decision to close down campus for the students and on an only necessary basis for teachers and administrative staff. This meant that as of February, classes have not taken place on campus. This meant that teachers had to come up with the best way to continue teaching.

Before deciding how to continue classes during a pandemic, students and their families were given a questionnaire to ask what would be their preferred method of teaching. There was an overwhelming amount of support for individual house visits from teachers, especially from the younger students whose parents are both usually working to support the household. Teachers then decided to implement bi-monthly house visits to students, alongside worksheets given every fifteen days to students during their house visit. This method has proven to be very effective, as both students and teachers really enjoy meeting in person and exchanging knowledge. These visits usually last between 2-3 hours, and takes each teacher various days to complete the grade they are teaching. In these visits teachers hand out guides that were structured by them to include studying material for two weeks. These guides also include materials needed, of which teachers are very mindful to not put anything very costly due to the majority of student's socio-economic situation. 

We hope that as the situation begins to get better we will be able to once again welcome students on campus. Until then, we continue to thank and be incredibly grateful for the entire educational team at Hero School for their above and beyond dedication to their students and the school. We are so incredibly fortunate to have them as part of the team. 

And we want to thank you for your continued support and/or donations towards LWH. It helps us continue to support our incredible teachers and staff in everything that they do. Thank you!

Students from 5th grade
Students from 5th grade
5th grade student and younger brother
5th grade student and younger brother
3rd grade student showing off a project
3rd grade student showing off a project
Student showing game that he made
Student showing game that he made
3rd grade student working on some homework
3rd grade student working on some homework

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Tech Donations
Tech Donations

1. Tech Donation Drive for Hero School

Our Development Director, Katie Larson, will arrive in Guatemala on Friday, February 12!! Thanks to our incredible supporters, she will bring some much-needed tech items to facilitate Hero School's remote learning efforts. Donations totaling $2,180 and consisting of laptops, tablets, and smartphones will help our teachers and administration team ensure a more consistent flow of instruction as they will once again take on the challenge of distance education during at least the first half of 2021.

 

2. Maximizing safety on our campus

Back in Comalapa, Hero School teachers are focused on finding the best practices for working with our students. And to create a safer environment for our entire Hero School community, specifically our students, our construction team will build and install a new front gate for the school! These types of projects are possible thanks to the monetary support of our donors. We want to thank you for not only continuing to allow us to create a progressive and inclusive educational environment, but also a safe one for all.

 

3. GivingTuesday 2020

For GivingTuesday 2020, which took place on December 1, the LWH team raised funds to begin construction of the Hero School Science Lab. This building will signify the completion of the original architectural plan that Matt and Adam envisioned for LWH fifteen years ago, and it will sit right on top of the Teachers' Lounge and next to the Cafeteria. Construction will be carried out in two simultaneous phases (Phase S and Phase B), from January 2021 to April 2021. 

Aware of the economic impact that COVID-19 has had on families around the world, and therefore doubtful of being able to raise the necessary funds for the project, we set our GivingTuesday goal at $10,000. However, thanks to the support of our generous donors, we managed to raise the incredible sum of $12,118.35, which thanks to our GlobalGiving partners who matched $4,063, became a mind-blowing total of $16,181.35. Not only did we exceed our goal, but we also did it in record time! Our donors truly have a heart of gold, and we are so grateful that they have chosen to be a part of this team.

 

4. Our wonderful interns!

We are delighted to have on our team, three interns who are (virtually) helping us with our Outreach and Grant Writing efforts.

Estefania, our Outreach intern is a Master's student from Brazil. She has been working alongside Sonia (Outreach Coordinator) to ensure we keep constant communication with donors like you. Estefania says, "I decided to join the LWH family because I'm a huge admirer of the work they've been doing over the years."

Koryna, our Grant Writing Intern is from San Francisco, CA, and has a degree in Biology. She is passionate about environmental and social justice which led her to join our team. She works alongside Katie (Nonprofit Development Director) to search and apply for grants to fund LWH projects. In her free time, Koryna enjoys birdwatching, making sourdough bread, and reading non-fiction books. 

Liz, our Grant Writing Intern studied Sociology and Psychology as an undergraduate student and is currently applying to graduate programs. She is a Virginia native who has had a lot of writing experience in previous jobs which has been helpful as she assists Katie to narrow down grant opportunities for LWH. Best of luck with your grad interviews!

If you are interested or know someone who is the perfect fit to become an intern with LWH, we accept interns on a rolling basis! You can learn more about current intern opportunities on our website. 

 

5. Kicking off our Ally Program

Our Hero School staff is preparing to meet the first group of Hero School Allies. During a first Zoom meeting, which will take place today, February 10, both staff and allies will discuss the work that is being done at the school, as well as the motivation behind this new effort to exchange culture and knowledge and debate on education matters. If you are interested in learning from our heroes about the tangible meanings of sustainable community development, please consider becoming an Ally to our Hero School! #BeAHero

 

6. Education at LWH: College Courses and the Green Building Academy (GBA)! 

Matt and Katie have started teaching the college courses for this Spring semester! Our first experience with our student, Asa, was more than we could have imagined. We are excited about all of what this new semester will bring. If you are interested in earning college credit* while supporting the work of LWH at an incredibly affordable rate, then make sure to check out our Certificate in Critical Pedagogy and Sustainability, a perfect way to gain an educational and pedagogical foundation in relation to sustainability. *Available for both undergraduate and graduate levels.

And finally, we are thrilled to announce that we are beginning to accept applications for our fifth Green Building Academy (GBA) in July 2021! The GBA is Long Way Home’s unique 4-week intensive course designed for individuals who wish to dive deep into green-building and design topics, as taught by expert instructors. Participants who join the Academy will contribute to our efforts to make healthy and resilient housing accessible to low-resourced and climate-stressed communities. Sign up here to attend the GBA and celebrate with us as we re-energize after a very tough year!

                                                                                                                Support our Heroes. Make a Difference!

The Science Lab construction area
The Science Lab construction area
Interns Estefania and Koryna
Interns Estefania and Koryna
Become an Ally to Our Hero School and #BeAHero
Become an Ally to Our Hero School and #BeAHero
Sign up for the July 2021 Green Building Academy!
Sign up for the July 2021 Green Building Academy!

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Our teachers have been busy making masks
Our teachers have been busy making masks

The past few months have been packed full of exciting events and goings-on for Long Way Home and CETC's Hero School. Despite the apparent impact of COVID-19, we are still in full swing. We are seeing that, more than ever, our work and the work of our builders, teachers, and students is vitally important in creating innovative, responsible, and impactful change. Below, you will find five of the most notable things going on at Long Way Home right now. 

 

1. Congratulations to Matt! 

This month, our Executive Director, Matt, was awarded the 2020 Sagent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service!!! Woo hoo!!! 

The Shriver Award is presented annually by NPCA (National Peace Corps Association) to returned Peace Corps Volunteers who continue to make sustained and distinguished contributions to humanitarian causes at home or abroad, or who are innovative social entrepreneurs who bring about significant change. 

Receiving this recognition in a time validates the impact of the work that we do and fills us with energy to continue working for changedemocracy, and the empowerment of the indigenous communities of Guatemala and Comalapa. 

 

2. Doing the Work

On September 18, Matt and our Director of Development, Katie, sat down for a Facebook live session to give updates on the status of Long Way Home and to unveil our new mission: 

"Long Way Home's mission, as a registered US 501(c)3, is to mobilize people to actively participate in democracy and create innovative pathways to economic and environmental justice through green building, employment, and education. We envision communities equipped to innovate and act responsibly in the face of local and global challenges." 

Other updates included that our volunteer program will re-open in July 2021, starting with a Green Building Academy! Keep your eye out for more information regarding that opportunity and for other ways that you can help out Long Way Home. 

This was just the first in a series of Facebook live events that we will be hosting. Our next one will be on October 28th at 7pm EST to further discuss our college courses.

 

3. A School of Heroes 

As COVID-19 continues to impact how our school operates, teachers and students have used their Hero School knowledge to be creative and resourceful in building solutions that keep learning happening!

One of our teachers, the awe-inspiring Seño Mayra, gave an interview in which she detailed the AMAZING efforts of our teachers. From going house-to-house to deliver curriculum to making and dropping off masks in neighboring communities. The work being done by our teachers to keep Comalapa safe, healthy, and educated during this challenging time is incredible, and their efforts are never-ending. 

            To read Seño Mayra's full interview, click here



4. Show off your support with some merch! 

We are finally in a place where we can start sending out some Long Way Home swag. We have t-shirts and hoodies. ALSO! We will soon be selling a limited supply of masks that were made by our very own Hero School teachers!! To check out our merch options, click here

 

5. Ally with us!! 

Do you love the work that Long Way Home is doing? Are you inspired to help create a community capable of overcoming numerous challenges? Well, coming later this month, Long Way Home will be unveiling a brand new way to get involved! 

     The Ally Program!

The Ally Program is a great way to support Hero School students in learning to create real change in their community. Our first cohort of Allies will join us, starting in November, and will each commit to raising $2,000 by January 31, 2021. 

This opportunity is not only one that greatly benefits our students and teachers, but it is a fantastic way for you to get involved and:

  • To acknowledge the importance of delivering quality education in a country where only 52% of the population is enrolled in Middle School.
  • To value our global interdependence in a 21st century, climate-stressed world.
  • To support our Hero School in generating local solutions to global challenges.
  • To partner across cultures in order to create a more just, sustainable, and healthy world for all.

The program will also allow Allies to connect with Hero School students and teachers 4x a year to discuss further the solutions students implement in their community. Allies will have additional opportunities to meet with Hero School directors and Long Way Home staff to dive deeper into these topics through group discussion. 

If this sounds like an opportunity that you would be interested in learning more about, shoot us an email, and we will make sure to get in touch with you when the program launches! 

Matt was just awarded the Sargent Shriver Award!
Matt was just awarded the Sargent Shriver Award!
Our teachers have been busy making masks
Our teachers have been busy making masks
We helped developed a COVID-19 safety pamphlet
We helped developed a COVID-19 safety pamphlet
Check out these masks! (soon to be on sale!)
Check out these masks! (soon to be on sale!)
Check out these masks! (soon to be on sale!)
Check out these masks! (soon to be on sale!)

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Long Way Home
Long Way Home

1. An update on the last few months

The world certainly has changed, hasn't it? 2020 promised to be one of Long Way Home's most promising years in terms of organizational growth and development and then COVID-19 hit and our plans had to be altered. On March 16th, it was announced that the government of Guatemala was going to start implementing measures to protect its citizens, including canceling all non-essential activities and shutting down borders. 

This announcement came in the midst of our fourth Green Building Academy, and we made the decision to cancel the remainder of the academy. This meant saying goodbye to our students and interns, all of whom made the decision to return home. 

Later that month the majority of our international team returned to their homes while our Executive Director, Matt, and our Green Building Academy instructor, Peter, remained in Comalapa to oversee the successful suspension of local operations and current projects. Although our international team has returned to their homes, they continue to work diligently to ensure that Long Way Home continues to be successful. 

2. The future of experiential programs 

It is after much deliberation and discussion between our organizational team, board, and the local community that we have made the decision to suspend all programming at Long Way Home until September 2020. Suspended programs include all regular volunteer programs as well as our July Green Building Academy. In August, we will re-examine the situation and decide if it is safe to welcome volunteers back to campus. 

Our decision comes based on CDC guidelines, a look at international travel bans, and the situation in Guatemala. We are incredibly disappointed not to be able to welcome volunteers and students to our site at this time but feel that with the added unknowns of international travel and border crossings, as well as the omnipresent unknown of COVID-19, we are not able to assure that guests will be able to make their way to Comalapa and safely learn and grow in the experience. 

We know that there will be a time that social distancing is not necessary, borders will again be open for travel, and there is a clear way out of the current situation. We are very much looking forward to this and will be ready to welcome volunteers and students. Until that happens, we look forward to connecting with our community via social media and e-mails.

3. Our commitment to employment 

The human nature of our work and the unprecedented nature of this pandemic means that Long Way Home will put all of our resources into supporting our local community through this difficult time and ensuring, as much as possible, that our local builders, teachers, and staff are able to stay home with their families until it is safe for them to return to our school and construction site. 

CETC and LWH may have suspended traditional operations, but our teachers are hard at work helping their community by providing masks to community members in need! See below for photos of our teachers hard at work! 

4. Some good news! 

Although we are sad to have closed our programs, we have a lot to celebrate! In April we participated in GlobalGiving's Climate Change Action Fund in an effort to raise funds for supporting our impact in the community of Comalapa. Over the course of one week, we raised a jaw-dropping $10,593 to support Long Way Home operations! We received donations from 159 unique donors, placing us in 6th place out of 127 competing organizations! Although we were ultimately not one of the top 5 organizations that moved on to the final round, we were incredibly touched by the support and love coming from donors like you! 

5. What comes next?

We are adapting our yearly Rubbish to Runway campaign to an online format and making it internationally accessible! This is very exciting for us, as Rubbish to Runway is one of our most talked about and beloved events. The event encourages people to practice sustainability and explore alternative methods of waste management.

Using the rubbish in their homes, designers will create high fashion outfits and take a video of themselves walking down the runway! Videos and pictures of their outfits will be put together in a video and released during a live stream on Sunday, July 26th at 7 pm EST. There is still time to participate in this challenge for anyone who is interested! Simply go to our website for more details! 

Green Building Academy 4
Green Building Academy 4
Student Projects
Student Projects
Student Projects
Student Projects
Rubbish to Runway Boston
Rubbish to Runway Boston
Rubbish to Runway Boston
Rubbish to Runway Boston
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CETC Grad_1
CETC Grad_1

1. CETC in 2020

Since we last spoke with you all, exciting things have happened at CETC. We celebrated the first-ever CETC high school graduation on November 10th! Twelve out of twelve grade 11 students completed all requirements to receive their Bachillerato Diversificado diploma. Ten of the graduates will go on to study in university and we are working with the other two to find ways to help them with the monthly tuition. For the campus, we raised over $8,000 during Giving Tuesday to complete the construction of the cafeteria and teacher's lounge in 2020! As always, we were excited to welcome back students to campus in January for the start of the 2020 school year. CETC will serve 121 students this year. There is a lot of inspiring work ahead for the students, including continuing to build stoves, latrines, water tanks, and retaining walls for families in need in Comalapa and surrounding villages.

 

2. Fundraising for LWH at Nobles and Greenough

Tulasi and John Henry are two 15 year old students from Noble and Greenough School in Massachusetts. They were 14 when, through the Experiential & Community Engaged Learning (EXCEL) program at their school, decided to join a service trip to Guatemala in the Spring of 2019.

When asked about what impacted them the most about their experience working with Long Way Home (LWH), they responded almost in unison: helping to build someone’s home. During their time in Comalapa, they learned the basics on how to build a sustainable house out of trash, using unconventional materials like used tires, eco-bricks, glass bottles and cob. They also had the opportunity to talk and interact with the students at our school, Centro Educativo Técnico Chixot (CETC), and play soccer and other games with them. 

Traveling to Central America as teenagers

For John Henry, the trip was all about learning how to make a difference and help in whatever way he could. “Yes, we are teenagers, but there are some things we can start doing to make this world a better place”, he says. For him, joining a service trip was far more interesting than conventional tourism, because “we got to experience [Guatemala] in a deeper way, there was a purpose”.

For Tulasi, the idea of coming to Central America was a little scary at first, especially for her parents. “A lot of what we know about Central and Latin America comes from the news, and there you see a lot of negative things… but then you get there, and you realize it’s not as bad as they portray it in the media. The media definitely over hypes it”, she says. 

It was also interesting for them to learn about the United States influence in Central America. “We learn about this in school, but not in depth. And I think that explains a lot of the media hype”, shares John Henry. “Central America is beautiful, with amazing people… and the views! Incredible views!”, he reminisces before concluding that “every country has its risks, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the world”.

Fundraising efforts

After their trip, Tulasi and John Henry decided to team up and continue supporting LWH. They set up a club at their school and started planning different activities to raise money for the organization, while creating awareness in their community. “The work that we saw there was really eco-friendly architecture, which was amazing. But it’s also about community and education”, says John Henry. “It was really inspiring to hear Matt talk about education in democracy”, adds Tulasi. “In my family we really value education. That is one of the most important values: better education for a better future. And if we can help give that to the kids at CETC, then we will.”

With their first fundraising effort, a bake sale back in November 2019, they raised about $230 for LWH. The next month, they spoke about LWH’s mission and work at a school assembly to encourage people to make a donation for Giving Tuesday on December 3. Currently, they are planning another bake sale for Valentine’s Day and are hopeful that they can soon come back to Guatemala and continue helping. “It is a lifelong cause, so it doesn’t make sense to stop.” 


About Nobles EXCEL

Nobles EXCEL is an experiential learning program that helps students become responsible, empathic and skilled global citizens, as they develop resilience, creativity and character in a variety of contexts. It encompasses a wide variety of programs revolving around service, cross cultural immersion and hands-on learning in and out of the classroom. Nobles has built partnerships with more than 100 organizations around the world. We are thrilled to be part of this movement and to have the opportunity to challenge their students to develop new skills, see the world from a different perspective, and develop their best selves, while serving communities and discovering the wonders of travel. 

 

Like this content? Stay tuned as our Annual Report will be released on our website by March 1st! 



CETC Grad_2
CETC Grad_2
Tulasi and John Henry
Tulasi and John Henry
Noble and Greenough Group_1
Noble and Greenough Group_1
Noble and Greenough Group_2
Noble and Greenough Group_2

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Organization Information

Long Way Home, Inc.

Location: Culpepper, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @lwhome_org
Project Leader:
Matt Paneitz
Executive Director
Culpepper, VA United States
$53,455 raised of $100,000 goal
 
1,002 donations
$46,545 to go
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