Lynn Valley United Church is building a new school in Guatemala in a small village called Cwitziribal.
Well- not just Lynn Valley United. Two other churches have joined forces to make this dream become a reality.
And unlike other "voluntourism" projects around the world, this tiny farming village way up in the mountains of the highlands of Guatemala is actually doing the building, supporting the community by offering much needed jobs that will boost the local economy while also bringing the community together, actively involved in providing positive change for their families.
The little village of Chwitizibiral had a two room school building with poor lighting, no heat or ventilation and defective plumbing. In a bleak work & learning environment, the two teachers, Andrea and Manuel, worked to educate 56 children ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 6, while also carrying out duties of administration, librarian, counsellor, custodian and community liaison. The government pays for salaries and electricity for the school, but not much more than that, so curriculum materials are often paid for out of the teachers' or parents' pockets. The school maintenance and upkeep also falls to the teachers and families.
So through a relationship with the teachers of Chwitziribal, we heard the stories of the challenges they face and the dreams they have for their students. This inspired friends to reach out and share the vision of hope... which in turn has inspired action in this mountainside community thousands of miles from Guatemala.
By providing the financial resources to build this school, an entire village benefits... from the healthy, workable environment that will help their children learn to a local ecomony bolstered by construction jobs to a new community hub that will be used for all manner of community gatherings. The biggest bonus is to see how this project has brought the people of the village together. Witnessing hope erupt throughout the community, it is pure wonder and joy to know that our combined efforts are providing a new beginning for these families, who in turn have an opportunity to create a future for themselves and their children in Guatemala.