Is it possible to build a school in a moutain village in Guatemala out of bottles filled with trash and old tires, and at the same time involve the local community in such a way that their futures become more sustainable and green? I would probably have said no about 3 months ago, however after I have lived and volunteered in Guatemala for 2 months now with a non-profit called Long Way Home in Comalapa, Guatemala, I now know that this is acsually possible.
I want to share this amazing project with more people, and I hope you will find my blog interesting, and hopefully expand your horizon on what green building can also be.
In 2008, Long Way Home purchased a piece of land in Paxan, a village 1
mile from downtown Comalapa. The school's construction began at the
beginning of 2009. We are primarily building the school out of old tires and bottles.
The Vocational School will in the future provide a venue for young Comalapans to
learn such trades as masonry, carpentry, and bicycle repair. The
workshops in the school will serve as hands-on classrooms, and will be
viable businesses where the students will work as apprentices to
professionals in each field. The income generated by the workshops
will pay the teachers' salaries, helping the school near its goal of
financial sustainability. The school will also include an area where
students can learn alternative energy production. Once the school is
successfully producing alternative fuels, the sale of fuel will
provide additional funding for the institution.
Interns and volunteers from around the world who come to work at the
Tecnico Maya Vocational School will also contribute to the financial
sustainability of the project. The $300 per month fee that each
volunteer pays will directly fund educational programs at the school
and supplement teacher salaries.
The first aspect of the school that will make an environmental impact
on the community of Comalapa is the techniques we will implement for
its construction. Using environmentally friendly construction methods
such as trash bottle, rammed earth, and earth bag, the school will be
a practical demonstration of how to reuse discarded materials. The
locals who participate in the school's construction will have hands-on
experience with these money-saving construction techniques and will
apply their new knowledge within the community.
Environmental education will be a main focus of the school's new
curriculum. From organic gardening to environmentally friendly
construction methods, young Comalapans will be learning responsible
stewardship of the Earth through their coursework. The addition of
alternative fuel production education should make a long-term impact
on the surrounding communities as well.
The most immediate way that the construction of the vocational school
will contribute to the economy of Comalapa is through providing jobs
for its teachers. Not only will the current Tecnico Maya teachers have
a more consistent source of income, but the newly added vocational
curriculum will require the addition of several new teachers from
within the community. The long-term economic effects of the vocational
school will be felt when a group of skilled young Comalapans, uniquely
trained to be environmental entrepreneurs, enter the Guatemalan job
This construction of the school is moving forward fast, and it involves many different people with different backgrounds and countries. It is a exciting and never seen before school project, so I hope you will continue to follow our progress through our website or this blog.