After a stint in the Peace Corps, Matt Paneitz decided he wanted to begin his own nonprofit to help the children and families of Guatemala. What became known as Long Way Home, has grown into a large volunteer program which works with children and educators across the country to help build sustainable homes, schools, and facilities for the families of Guatemala.
Long Way Home’s mission is to “mobilize people to actively participate in democracy and create innovative pathways to economic and environmental justice, through green building, employment, and education.”
Long Way Home takes a look at what resources are available to the communities in Guatemala and transform everyday trash and recycling into sustainable, green living units and buildings.
But what started out as taking the materials and transforming them into usable spaces quickly became a learning opportunity for local schools. This began the educational process for students at Centro Educativo Tecnico Chixot.
Instead of reading social studies textbooks and gathering data, students have been able to have a hands-on social education, working with families in the community, discussing what their needs are, and how the students and educators can bring it to them.
Now, students are building cisterns, stoves, composts, retaining walls, water tanks, and eventually homes, all while learning about sustainable construction.
Many families and teachers involved in the project feel that this education is more valuable than they could have imagined. Instead of just classroom skills, students are learning how to create and provide for themselves.
And the students agree, too. Boys and girls are studying not only green construction applications, but local ecosystems, science, and math, all in the process of building up their communities and lifting each other up.
At Buena Onda, we love seeing our Guatemalan communities grow and thrive. And we hope you can see it, too.