A class apart, long way home
A few years ago the residents of San Juan Comalapa, a small town in Guatemala’s highlands, didn’t know anything about recycling: they tended to throw their garbage in the river. But Comalapa, a primarily Mayan community of farmers, had another problem: most children ended their education after primary school to help their families survive. Matt Paneitz, a former Peace Corps volunteer here, and his organization Long Way Home are working with residents to tackle both issues. Long Way Home’s first project was building a soccer field (Paneitz sold his car to help fund it). Next, it turned to the waste and education problems. The ingenious solution: Build a school out of recycled rubbish, particularly old tires, which make excellent walls. The school’s not finished yet (though some classes are being offered), but when it’s done it will serve some 400 students, offering academic coursework and vocational workshops in carpentry, masonry, welding and other crafts that will help turn the cycle of poverty around.
A class apart, long way home. Newsweek, New York, Dec 27,2010/ Jan 3, 2011, ENCARTE, p.14.
About the people of San Juan Comalapa, it’s correct to say that they
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