Many of you have heard about the NGO that works in my site called Long Way Home (LWH). This organization is all about sustainable construction- that is to say they build things out of trash. So far the organization’s projects have included the construction of an ecological park complete with a swimming pool and residential cabins, a primary school, and at present a vocational school for those looking to gain marketable job skills in the sustainable construction industry.
Since LWH is turning 10 today, I want to share with you ten things that I love about Long Way Home and its projects.
- Pioneering waste management strategies.
Long Way Home uses limited resources available in rural Guatemala to raise awareness and take measurable steps to reduce pollution and environmental destruction in a developing environment.
- Dedicated Gringo and Guatemalan Staff.
The team that runs the organization both foreign citizens and host-country nationals work tirelessly to continuously advance the organization’s goals of sustainability-focused education and community development.
- Passionate and Driven Volunteers.
The crew at Long Way Home wouldn’t be possible without dedicated volunteers like Nathan Rockey who recently won Long Way Home’s coveted “Golden Machete” award for volunteer service. The relentless flow of volunteers from across the globe to this exciting project contribute immensely to its ever-fresh perspective. A fitting climate for an organization in the Land of the Eternal Spring.
- One of the largest employers in town.
Long Way Home is one of the largest employers of local people from within the community. Everyone knows about them. Every day more people are excited about what they’re doing.
- Local capacity building.
Aside from providing invaluable experience to volunteers and staff, the organization has partnered with a variety of other community members. Providing hands-on and experience-based education to students in its local primary school and to other academic institutions in Guatemala are one of the ways that it spreads an important message about environmental stewardship and individual leadership to an emerging population.
- Facilitators of cultural exchange.
Through their volunteer program, developing a large Guatemalan staff, and community outreach programs such as their school, Long Way Home brings its new ideas and perspective to Guatemala. But also, Guatemala’s culture and heritage travel to the world’s farthest corners with its diverse volunteer program.
- Runs a school for the town’s most underprivileged residents.
Charging a tuition based on trash turned into bottle bricks, there is no longer an excuse for multiple-child households not to enroll even the youngest daughter in primary school.
- Brings in money from outside Comalapa.
Through it’s volunteer program, partnerships, and grants Long Way Home is able to fund innovative new initiatives such as it’s employee microcredit program that provides short-term capital to potent local enterprise.
- Listen to me talk.
These guys and gals are patient and passionate people. It’s a thrill to have a discussion with them about real ideas that are being put into action in a real community providing tangible benefits to real people.
- Know how to throw a party.
Delicious food, artfully brewed beers and wines from local ingredients, live music, and enthusiastic laughter are just some of the components of an occasional soiree to relax and talk about home.
Long Way Home continues to sail towards the brightest beacon on the Guatemalan horizon. While they’re dreaming of the day when their project will no longer be necessary, there’s still a long way to go. Please consider kicking them a donation as they commemorate their tenth year as an organization.