First published in ¿Qué Pasa? magazine.
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Long Way Home uses sustainable design and materials to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment, and environmental stewardship. Celebrating its 10th year in San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, Long Way Home has awakened a growing consciousness in the community that repurposed waste materials can be used to build homes and schools. Using the organization’s model, garbage that would otherwise contaminate drinking water and fertile farmland ends up serving the community in a variety of ways.
The social and environmental benefits of building with waste are numerous and long-term. Environmental decontamination leads to both restored ecological integrity and improved human health. Ridding the landscape of litter adds to its aesthetic and recreational value, beneficial both to Guatemala’s tourism industry as well as to the local population. This is a low-cost development strategy, appropriate and affordable for rural, low-income residents.
Long Way Home is in the process of completing the final buildings for their 18-building primary, middle, and vocational school campus. Simultaneously they are hosting 61 students from kindergarten through Grade 6 and providing a scholarly environment with professional development opportunities for a qualified, local faculty.
Additionally, Long Way Home contributes to a growing awareness of green building, serves as one of the largest private-sector employers of local people, and encourages youth to see their potential for global impact. Long Way Home runs an active volunteer program that accommodates people with various skill sets and schedules. Volunteers have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by developing skills related to sustainable construction, community outreach, and nonprofit management. Furthermore, the organization arranges for its volunteers to live either in a communal house, in hotels or in homestays with local families, depending on personal preference and budget.
To learn more about Long Way Home and how to volunteer with them, visit their website at lwhome.org or contact their Development Director Genevieve Croker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by: Genevieve Croker