A few weeks ago we received an invitation from our friend, Heenal Rajani to attend the inauguration of the 18th bottle school of Hug it Forward. We excitedly accepted and Monday was the big event!
The first leg of our journey took us to the crazy, crowded town of Chimaltenango where we ran a few errands and grabbed some lunch. From there, we drove the 45 minutes to San Martin, Jilotepeque. Upon arrival, we were introduced to the group of volunteers that are currently participating in a trip with Hug it Forward. As they ate lunch, we had the opportunity to chat with a few of them and to hear about their time so far. They were loving their experience here in Guatemala and their time volunteering.
We hopped back in the truck and followed the busload of volunteers the half an hour out to the community of Santa Rosa. The windy mountain road took us through some amazing countryside and once again, we were reminded what a beautiful country Guatemala is!
The band was playing loudly and the firecrackers were going off as we drove on to the site of the school. In preparation of the rain, a tarp made of feed bags was hung over a few dozen chairs. As is the tradition when celebrating something, a bed of pine needles lay on the stage in front of the new classrooms and everyone was wearing their finest. Prayers were said, the anthem sung and then each grade performed.
Hug it Forward works side by side with communities in need of schools. They teach the community how to make eco-bricks (the same method we are using for the interior walls-empty plastic bottles filled with plastic bags), secure the funding and then work in collaboration with the community to erect the classrooms.
This is a big deal that this small community now has two more classrooms. These new two-one thousand square foot classrooms will allow kids to move out of the damp and dark building that they have been studying in. They will now study in this bright, beautifully painted (thanks to the volunteers!) classrooms. The community was elated and so appreciative of Hug it Forward’s assistance. It is a very empowering model that should be an example to many NGOs.
Beautifully framed and embroidered messages were presented in appreciation to various key supporters prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony. Once the ribbon was cut, we wandered in and admired the building before we had to hit the road again and begin the two hour journey back to Tecpán. What a great day and huge honour to see the work of Hug it Forward in action. Way to go friends! Keep up the great work!
p.s. Check out Heenal’s recent TED Talk in Guatemala City. TEDx