Community – Building pride through hard work

From potable water to reforestation to economic development, vibrant communities needs sustainable infrastructure to succeed. Amigos de Guatemala strives to give locals the tools and knowledge to help manage their destiny and reduce the reliance on others for support.

Self Reliance through a Water Purification Enterprise

The ultimate goal of many non-profits is that the community it serves becomes self-sustaining and supporting the programs and projects they feel are important.  By providing an ongoing stream of revenue, the people of Zacualpa, el Quiché, Guatemala will realize the ability to manage their community’s destiny by providing scholarships as well as financially supporting their projects.  The focus is elevating women and girls with meaningful employment as well as education to better their opportunity to be self-reliant.Amigos de Guatemala, along with its long time NGO (non-government organization) partner ADIZ, has a vision of providing purified water at a reduced rate to generate the revenue needed.  The business plan has a five-year horizon to establish the enterprise.  Click here for the synopsis in English. The full project plan in Spanish can be found here.  While the plan is in Spanish the following excerpts highlight the three phases.  The first phase was completed in 2023 which was to expand and upgrade the existing well to provide enough water to support the project.  

We Need a Well – Estanzuela

In addition to the main town of Zacualpa where the middle schools are; students might travel more than an hour each way over gutted, gravel roads.  Some years ago the team visited one hamlet where they passed out dictionaries to third graders and noticed the women walking a couple of miles to the river, carrying back huge jugs of water.  The well in the community had been sealed with concrete during the Civil War that ended in the late 1990s.  Amigos de Guatemala leaders raised funds to redrill the well, install pumps and place spigots in the center of the small village, at the elementary school and the local infirmary.  Team members worked hand in hand with locals to complete the project.  The women now walk a couple hundred yards instead of a couple of miles each way.

Prolonged Drought Exacerbates Food Insecurity

Food shortages are real for the young and elderly in the Maya Highlands of Northwestern Guatemala. This was particularly evident during the pandemic. With the help of a long-time supporter, Amigos de Guatemala was able to obtain a plot of land with a working well and a small outbuilding.  An agriculture professor from the University in Guatemala retired to the Zacualpa area and works with the students teaching them techniques for a successful crop using the least amount of a precious water supply.  We were able to obtain seed of heirloom corn; a variety in danger of extinction, and a portion of the garden is devoted to this strain.  Bounty from the garden helps feed seniors, single moms and students.

Solar Lights

Many of our students live in spartan conditions.  Dirt floors are not uncommon.  One student whose family squatted on some land for several years was kicked out during the second half of her senior year.  She completed the year as her family took shelter in a cave.  Electricity is a precious and expensive commodity.  We provided some students with solar battery powered lights from a Guatemala company bootstrapped by a Rotary Club in Michigan.  This allows the student an extra hour of light to study.

Future Clean Water Well Project

The well on the garden plot, when drilled deeper, will produce enough water to operate a purification business to sell clean water at a rate lower than existing commercial firms.  Local bottled water sources are not certified clean.  The project will employ local people with proceeds to fund scholarships and other community initiatives including seed money for clean water wells in neighboring communities.

Community Projects that Need Funding

Reforestation of Mountain Communities – ongoing project

In rural Guatemala, wood is used for fuel for cooking on stoves and wood-burning ovens.  Over the decades hillsides are barren, causing mudslides and changing the climate.  

Amigos de Guatemala is working with local villagers to improve the environment by replanting 5,000 fast-growing pine and cypress trees.  Fifty families will each receive 100 saplings and be educated to maintain the trees in a healthy and sustainable method by harvesting limbs rather than whole trees.  The trees will help fend off erosion and rebalance the local ecosystem. 

Request:  Q22,500/$3,000 includes delivery from the nursery.

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