Guatemala Project - 6 Months Later
I remember writing this blog post the week after I got back from Guatemala. I was certain I had at least two more posts in me, and that I’d be sharing more about the experience in no time! It’s funny how life happens and time gets away from us…
In mid-July, EMI staff had completed their review of the plans, calculations and report. At that point, I agreed to give a lunch-time presentation about the project trip at my office. I finally gave that presentation two weeks ago (it went really well BTW)! And now, here we are, six months later… and I’m finallllly sharing more about this experience with family and friends. Phew! Six months, how did that happen?!
As a refresher, I thought I’d share some basic information about the project: when, where, who, why, etc. I then have links to both the plans and report along with information about next steps! And finally, I have some photos toward the bottom with little snippets about the trip.
March 17-25, 2018
Location + History
The project is located in San Juan Cotzal, Guatemala. It’s approximately 7 hours north of the Capital in a mountainous region. Cotzal is a Mayan Town, and is one of the 3 points that make of the Ixil Triangle. This was the center of a 30 year civil war that ended in 1996 where 200,000 people were killed. Most of the people I met on this trip lost some family in the war, and parts of this region are still recovering from the devastation of the war. The community to this day has remained pretty isolated form the rest of the world. The people in Cotzal have maintained their traditional culture. Most of the men are farmers and most of the women are weavers. They speak Ixil as their primary language, and they speak Spanish as their secondary language.
For this project trip, EMI partnered with WIND (who was essentially our “client” for the week). WIND has been working within this region for over 11 years. In this area of Guatemala only about 30% of children graduate from the 6th grade. Most children need to drop out of school and start working as soon as possible to help with the family income. This has been the pattern for generations, and now, thanks to WIND, families are beginning to recognize the importance of education and how that plays a direct role in breaking the cycle of poverty.
WIND has partnered with a school in Cotzal called Colegio Horeb. This school was founded by a woman named Tabita in 2007. At the end of the first year they were open, they had 21 students. Today there are more than 300 students that go to this school! Horeb currently provides education up to the 8th grade. They rent space in town in a poorly maintained building (pictured below). And they’re now at capacity.
Scope of Work
The scope of this project includes the concept design of new buildings and facilities for a pre-school, primary school, middle school and high school. It will include teaching and administration spaces, support and service spaces, and other community spaces such as an auditorium, chapel, and small medical clinic. The site is approximately 3 acres in size, and will serve 600 students when completed.
Plans + Report
Since coming back from Guatemala, the plans, calculations, and report have gone through a QAQC process with EMI staff. The final plans and report were recently handed over to WIND. Click on the cover sheet below to open the complete plan set, and click the cover page below to open the concept report.
WIND has hired an architect who lives in Guatemala City to start detailing some of the design and start working through phasing.
WIND recently received a pledged donation of $50,000 over the next 5 years along with other monthly pledges.
Students and families in Cotzal are saving and raising money on their own for the project.
WIND is already working with a local construction company who has generously offered to only charge for gas and labor wages for excavation and site preparation.
Below are some chronological photos from the trip that will hopefully tell some more of the story about our time there.
If you’ve made it to the bottom of this blog post, hello again, and thank you for reading! I’ll wrap up with probably stating the obvious… these project trips are life changing. Every good thing that pours out of me is a direct result of my involvement with EMI over the years. These experiences have helped me realize that God did not put me on this earth to just consume resources, take up space, and work for a paycheck only to pour back into myself. I’ve come to realize that everything I learn and all of the skills I develop while working in the corporate world, are not just meant to be utilized on projects here in the U.S. I believe I’m meant to use those skills to serve others and provide value on projects like this.
In the last couple of months I’ve started leading the EMI Chicago Network group, which is kind of like a small group for architecture and engineering professionals who have served and continue to serve with EMI. It’s been so awesome to connect with like-minded people in the industry who look at their work and the world around them in a similar way. If you’ve made it to the end of this and are in the AEC industry and want to get connected, please don’t hesitate to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org