Long Way Home began operations in the municipality of San Juan Comalapa, in the poor, indigenous highlands of west-central Guatemala in 2004, with a grassroots, community development strategy to bring local residents together to learn about eco-friendly living, appropriate sustainable technologies, and improved waste management solutions. Together with our neighbors, we built a community park, Parque Chimiyá, on five acres of rural land. The park features a tree nursery, terraced organic gardens, a regulation grass soccer field, a basketball court and a playground. Parque Chimiyá has a volunteer house for domestic and international volunteers and interns, a community kitchen and an amphitheater for presentations, classes and other community events.
In 2008, LWH purchased land in the village of Paxán, one half mile from Comalapa’s urban center, to build a vocational school complex of 18 buildings. Construction began in January of 2009 an will be finished by 2014. Long Way Home has an agreement with a local school, Técnico Maya, to absorb their existing student body and faculty from their inadequate facility once the Paxán site is ready. In early January 2012, the first classroom opened for 4th and 5th grade students.
Reused, rammed-earth tires form the walls of the school building, rainwater harvesting cisterns, and retaining walls. Reused glass bottles become skylights, and trash bottle fillers line the roof and seams between tires. We have also incorporated metal waste into the rammed-earth tires. We feel that we are only scratching the surface of the creative reuses for waste materials and we are learning as much from our Guatemalan counterparts as they are from us.
It is Long Way Home’s goal to lead by example in order to demonstrate what can be achieved with the proper leadership and a will to make positive changes from the ground up. We believe that the path to real, lasting change is through youth capacity-building and we are convinced that the creative reuse of waste materials in construction is an adaptable global solution with compounded impacts. This strategy has the ability to preserve cultural and natural resources, alleviate poverty through job creation and improve health.
Long Way Home is looking for enthusiastic volunteers or groups who can choose from a variety of volunteering opportunities. The majority of volunteers work in alternative construction on the Paxán site. Work on the site includes digging, packing tires to build walls, cutting used bottles to be used in the construction of skylights and windows, collecting used tires from the surrounding towns, stuffing plastic bottles with dirt and trash and applying cobb and adobe to the internal and external buildings.
Furthermore, you also have the opportunity to teach English and environmental education to elementary children at our affiliated school, help with organic gardening and work in NGO management or IT
Long Way Home welcomes both short- and long-term volunteers of all ages. We have facilities to house a limited number of volunteers in our volunteer house. Furthermore, volunteers can stay in our affiliated hotel or with a family. Volunteering costs range from $75 to $95 per week.
Volunteers and interns are encouraged to visit our website for more details. http://longwayhomeinc.org/en/volunteer
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