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  • Writer's pictureBruce Clemens

The Power of Collaboration

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Thank you to Janet Seddon with the Rotary Club of Petaluma CA for sharing a synopsis of day five of the 2019 Guatemala Summit. Enjoy!

Today we set off early with the intention of meeting with the folks at Agua del Pueblo in Xela. That meant we had to climb out of the Lake Atitlán watershed to a height of 10,000 feet and descend 3,000 feet to Xela via the Pan American highway. The views were spectacular.

On the way we stopped at a Rotary project at a rural elementary school in Nuevo Progresso. This school was a miracle of collaboration with various groups and technologies. The building itself was made using plastic bottles filled with non organic waste. They have two classrooms; one for 30 children in 2nd-5th grade and the second for the little ones from age 2-5 plus some working toilets and a kitchen. Carolyn from the NGO Mil Milagros, who runs the school, said that once the school offered a good meal they started getting younger and younger children. Poverty is rampant in this village and food is a valuable commodity. The NGO Courts for Kids supplied a playground equipped with basketball hoops and the government spent money to hook up the school to the internet. They have five functioning computers for the children.

The main interest for this visit was the collaboration of Rotary and Agua del Pueblo who constructed a well to provide the school with potable water and a sewage treatment system to service the toilets. The project is almost finished and looks very professional. Todd managed to amuse the children with singing and they repaid him with some songs of their own.

We then went on to Xela for a presentation by Maria and Carlos at Agua del Pueblo. They first showed us some statistics on poverty in Guatemala. Of the 17 million inhabitants 70% are existing on $5 a day or less and poverty has increased in the last 15 years. Only 10% of cities have waste water treatment plants with the outcome that almost all of the water available for drinking is polluted. It’s a big job and the government is overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done.

The original pit latrine located on the edge of the playground at Nuevo Progresso

The new bathrooms at Nuevo Progresso made possible by the water and sanitation systems, which were a collaboration between Agua del Pueblo and Rotary

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