Kitchens, toilets and water systems in Guatemala

Los Planes Primary School, site of the new kitchen construction project.
Los Planes Primary School, site of the new kitchen construction project.

Kitchen Construction: Los Planes

As we continue to expand our kitchen remodeling projects along with our partner Mil Milagros, we are very excited about the opportunity to work with Los Planes school and community to create a space that will provide safe resources and nutritious food to those children attending school. After seeing the successful partnership in Los Manantiales Primary School we are so glad that Mil Milagros has decided to expand their program and partner with ViviendasLeón as we continue to participate in projects aimed at helping rural communities in Guatemala.

Currently, our project is in the planning phase as our project director Molly Molander has been meeting with several educators, administrators, the school council director, Mil Milagros parents, and COCODE officials and Parent President of the School Board at the Los Planes Primary School to discuss what must be done to complete this project. This largely includes discussing the roles and responsibilities of our various stakeholders as we look to begin construction soon. In addition, one of the most important, and difficult, pieces of beginning this remodel is securing funding. We are so grateful to Alimentos S.A., a Guatemalan company that works to distribute food products, as well as to the Santa Lucia Utatlan Mayor’s Office for providing a total of Q29k towards this reconstruction.

As an organization, ViviendasLeón aims to help bring communities together through common problems and working together to provide actionable solutions. As a resource, we hope to continue to work with schools in order to implement safe working conditions for the women who provide lunches, as well as with the students who need healthy and nutritious food as they continue to grow.

Looking forward, our next steps will include developing a construction work plan, identifying the resources and supplies needed as well as making sure the area is clear and ready for people to begin building. During our site visit in February, Los Planes school director, Arturo Lopez Vasquez, gave the staff a walking tour of the community highlighting the current living conditions of most families in the Guatemalan Highlands, and the importance of the nutrition work that we are working to accomplish. Hearing from local families about the obstacles that they face as well as their dreams for how their community can grow and develop in the future, we can’t wait to begin building! Stay updated through our blog and social media. 

Composting toilets and water collection: Campo Verde

In addition to remodeling the Los Planes school kitchen, ViviendasLeón is also working on a toilet construction and rainwater catchment system in Campo Verde. In order to address the community's desire for flushing toilets with the limitation of lack of running water, Molly is working with the USF Architecture Department as well as the CV's director in order to design a sustainable bathroom system in Campo Verde.

Currently, this project is focused on how to catch the rainwater effectively in order to have enough to operate their toilet systems. After talking with the local community, we have decided to install a manometer on one water line to begin collecting data. We will continue to monitor results in the upcoming weeks to assess the viability of using running water. Along with considering running water, we are currently working to build a roof over the Campo Verde playground. This construction will provide a great source to collect water so we can get those toilets up and running.

When addressing projects such as toilet construction, we want to be conscious of how to create a sustainable and long-term solution that incorporates an individual community's strengths and resources. In order to secure funding for this project, our Executive Director Evan Markiewicz has teamed with Professor Seth Wachtel of USF’s Architecture Department to develop a grant. Check back to keep up with our project progress! 

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