Expanding our program to new communities in Guatemala
Our Las Manantiales kitchen project, began in early April 2019 and is expected to be fully completed within a week. The floor tiles and wall tiles, including the hand-painted tiles from the San Francisco Friends School and the Spring Family delegations, are being placed and completed. Now that both the kitchen and outdoor sink have been installed, the electrical work, chimney, and stovetops can be finished up.
With the success of this project, our project partner, Mil Milagros, has decided to expand the kitchen project to other schools. Los Planes school, home to 180 students from the ages of 4 to 12, has been selected to receive a remodeling of their kitchen. This project will involve the local municipal government, who pledged Q 10,000.00 (about $1,300.00 USD) for the project, as well as people from the local COCODE (Community Development Councils) which brings together various representatives and stakeholders such as parents, school administrators, other community members, and local government officials to discuss the project.
When working in small, rural communities, the most insightful way to approach their needs is to listen to members of the community. After a meeting with the Los Planes School Board, parents, COCODE authorities, Community Coordinators, and the school’s principal and teacher, Professor Arturo, the architectural layout plan was decided on. During the meeting, the COCODE encouraged mothers to express themselves in their native Quiche, for many of whom it is their first language. The community works in incredible unison and is propelled by the proactive and dedicated Professor Arturo.
The only change to the plans was requested by the mothers, who asked that the height of two of the four stoves be lowered so that they can more easily stir and move the pots that the hot cereals are cooked in. Additionally, community members asked if we could find a solution to rainwater runoff, as the school does not have a proper drainage system and the playground floods regularly as a result. One idea that ViviendasLeón is contemplating is building a rainwater catchment system that would provide the school with another source of water, thus leveraging the tremendous rainfall.
In the coming weeks, we will finalize the plans and the budget for this project. The first delegations will arrive in February, and the community will be responsible in organizing the fathers to provide labor, identify a local community contractor, and prepare food for the visiting delegations.
As well as remodeling the school kitchen and finding a solution to their rainwater problem, we plan on organizing activities with the kids. These may include science projects, crafts, and reading time in their outdoor reading area. It's clear that this community is already dedicated to their children’s education, and we are looking forward to collaborating with them on this project.