Over the years, one of our favorite International Services projects provides new schools in impoverished villages in Guatemala. To make certain buildings will be used, they are always constructed in villages with an established schools with government paid teachers, but struggling in  inadequate unhealthy and dangerous  buildings or sometimes with no buildings at all. A secret of success is that the villagers do nearly all the construction work themselves. The children gather up small mountains of plastic bottles and other plastic trash that litter the countryside.  The women stuff the bottles with other plastic trash forming “eco bricks” which will provide the interiors of the school walls, The men are taught by experts to build reinforced concrete pillars and other structural elements. The pillars are then joined by two layers if chicken wire. Then the entire village places the “eco bricks” between the wire walls, which are then coated by several layers of concrete, and finally plaster and paint.

Of course it is a bit more complex than that, but the end result is that plastic trash is collected before it washes away and adds to the plastic plague now in our oceans, the men learn a useful trade, the entire village completes the construction and new school rooms stand ready for the school to move in. The village takes pride in the school they built and know how to maintain and repair it. Clearly a win-win-win solution.

Our most recent effort is in the village of Xecoxol, The project had already completed one three room school building in this location, but it was soon overcrowded with students from the area. Thus, we contributed to the construction of a second three classroom building for the middle school age children. It took about 10,000 eco bricks, and required around 20,000 hours of work by the villagers.  They will know and treasure that building.

The total cost for the three classrooms was $20,831, of which our Club contributed $2,000. Since Kingston Rotarians added their own labor in raising the funds that contribution, we too can share the pride of the villagers.

The photographs below involve the earlier school built in Xecoxol and provide a view of the area and the village participation in the construction.