After several months of construction, we completed our first kitchen at the Los Manantiales Primary School in the Guatemalan Highlands. A huge thank you is owed to the local parent volunteers and visiting delegations who helped make this possible. Guatemala has the fourth-highest rate of child malnutrition in the world, and the chronic malnutrition rate is considerably higher in rural areas. By improving the conditions of school kitchens, we are ensuring that these children have access to regular, nutritious meals and that the mothers and grandmothers who cook them are doing so in a safe and hygienic environment.
A local student shared her thoughts on the construction project: “I found the kitchen project to be a good idea ... Our old kitchen was made out of corrugated metal panels and now the materials are better and beautiful.”
Once the finishing touches were complete, the Los Manantiales Primary School held an inaugural celebration where local community members came together to welcome the opening of their new kitchen. Teachers alongside the mothers got a tour of the new facility while the students jumped with excitement. During the celebrations, local fathers played a game of ‘palo encebado’ [greased pole], where the goal is to climb a greased pole and capture the flag at the top.
A mother who is part of the Community Board of Directors shared: “We are very grateful for ViviendasLeón’s program, the truth is we are now seeing the success of their work with the opening of the first kitchen. Our old kitchen forced us to inhale large amounts of smoke. Thanks to this program, we now enjoy a very nice and well-built kitchen.”
Implementing our Rural Kitchen Construction Project is a part of the process of trust-building as we open up new pathways to developing more projects aimed at helping rural Guatemalans, such as community gardens and water security projects.
The Los Manantiales Primary School principal, Angelica, shared: “We are grateful to ViviendasLeón for having made our school’s dreams come true. We believe that by using this kitchen we will see improved nutrition in our children and are also grateful to the donors and young foreigners who came to work with us. We had a very special experience because we had time for cultural exchange with the volunteers. We are thankful and now have faith and trust in the organization of ViviendasLeón because they make the dreams of Guatemalan children a reality.”
As well as improving the quality of life for local women and children, this project reflects ViviendasLeón’s mission to engage student and family groups in service trips to increase awareness and cross-cultural exchange. During the duration of their trip, our delegations work on the construction site, immersed themselves in Guatemalan life and enjoyed the beauty of this wonderful country.
A teacher leading their school’s trip shared: “The kindness in the welcome in each of the communities was heartwarming. Each of the towns we visited was filled with loving people who were proud to share their work, and lives from the artisanal products they make, the coffee they cultivate, games they play and the food they eat, it was a great learning experience.”
Looking forward to 2020, we are working with our partner Mil Milagros to identify schools that need new kitchens as we work to establish supplemental programs that will build human capacities, increase food and water security. Join us in 2020 on one of our immersive experiences to support rural development and discover Guatemala.