learn, collaborate, live IXTAHUACAN

Community projects in Ixtahuacán: Chajuab, Chuicutama,
Pacutama I, July 9-23, 2012

During our visit, from July 9-23 2012, to Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, Guatemala,
we had the opportunity to work with the communities of Chajuab,
Pacutama I and Chuicutama. For years, these communities have expressed
concern over the conditions of their schools and the negative effects on their
children’s’ health and learning. During our visit in July, 2012 we completed
projects to improve infrastructure in 2 schools, planted fruit trees in 3 schools,
repaired a damaged potable water system and provided a training for
community leaders on various topics.

School infrastructure improvement projects: Following Hurricane Stan
several communities of Ixtahuacán relocated to the upper highlands where
schools were constructed, but not fully completed. The failure to complete the
construction has had negative consequences on the health of children and
teachers, hindering the ability of students to concentrate and ultimately learn.
The most pressing issue was the entry of frigid air and dirt getting into the
classrooms, mainly through large gaps (12 inches) between the walls and
ceiling. At more than 9000 feet above sea level, frigid temperatures are part of
daily life, including regular fog and extreme dust/dirt as a result of
deforestation, slow growth vegetation and the dry season. A simple problem to
solve, but with serious consequences, CARAS worked with school and
community leaders to correct the problems and improve the school structures
and learning environments. This project has now been completed in 4
community schools.

School environment projects: Simultaneously with the project to improve the
schools’ structures and provide protection from the elements, CARAS
coordinated the planting of trees, shrubs, grass and other vegetation with
school teachers and community leaders. This project also included the planting
of fruit trees that are known to grow in the high altitude, which will also help
meet nutritional needs of the children. These projects incorporated an active
learning and participatory role for all students.

Water system rehabilitation project: Following 2 weeks of heavy rain, a
landslide damaged and disabled two captation tanks, at more than 10,000 feet
above sea level, for a water system belonging to the community of Chuicutma.
Together with a representative from each family in the community, we repaired
and strengthened (to avoid future breaks) the primary captation tank, repaired
the second tank, and repaired additional pipes damaged in other locations.
With these repairs the community water committee can resume their duties in
ensuring the maintenance of the system and delivery of clean water to their

Training for community leaders: We carried out workshops for various
community committees on leadership, communication and community project
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