The history of PEG…
In the summer of 2004 David and Deanna LaMotte went from their home in North Carolina to Guatemala for an unconventional honeymoon. Since they both love languages, they decided to spend their romantic getaway studying Spanish at a school in Antigua.
Both David and Deanna love ‘street level’ traveling — they are more intrigued by being in people’s living rooms and seeing what normal life is like than by monuments and tourist attractions. Because of that, both Deanna and David took the opportunity to visit different schools while they were there. They learned not only that many Guatemalan schools are in dire need of assistance, but that public schools are unsupported by the government other than paying teachers’ salaries. In order to build a school building, buy books, pay an electric bill, etc., a school must raise money from the students’ parents. Among the indigenous Mayan community in particular, many people are living on less than $2 a day, so raising that money can be a tremendous hardship. For this reason, most Guatemalan schools have very few books in them, if there are any at all.
Along with gaining a new understanding of the depth of need, David and Deanna came to understand that they are in a unique position to help. At the time, Deanna worked teaching English to students in North Carolina for whom English is a second language; David is a singer, guitarist and songwriter who travels all over the U.S. and the world to perform. This gives David the opportunity to talk to thousands of people every year (for more on David’s music, click here).
When they returned to the US, David told stories to the audiences at his concerts about the school he had visited, and they donated money to help with a project at that schools. People were eager to help, especially when David explained that no donated money would be applied toward administrative costs or toward salaries. All would go directly to the projects. Because it was so easy to raise that initial money, David and Deanna realized their potential to have a significant impact by taking on other worthy projects.
David formed a Board for the organization, and they named it P.E.G. (Proyecto para las Escuelas Guatemaltecas, or Guatemalan School Project). “Peg” is also the English word for the small part of a guitar used to get a string in or out of tune—a small change that makes a big difference. The board met for the first time on November 1, 2004. Soon after, PEG obtained 501c3 non-profit status.
Since then, PEG has raised over $100,000, primarily in small donations, for school and library projects in Guatemala. In the United States, it would be hard to build one good school for that money. In Guatemala, however, PEG was able to build a simple, sturdy one-room school in the village of Tzanchaj for $2,500. Now that school has two classrooms, a simple kitchen and 60 students, flush toilets and a program to feed the children several days each week. And that’s just one of many projects PEG supports.
PEG did not have any employees and was entirely run by volunteers, including David, for the first 10 years! In May 2014, David and Board of Directors decided to hire Sarah Robinson Bryan to take over as the Executive Director, working 5-10 hours per week. In just one year of having our first staff person, PEG has grown and each of the programs we support has grown with us!As always, all donations go directly toward projects unless the donor specifies that a portion of the proceeds may go to administrative costs, which consist mostly of travel expenses to and within Guatemala, payroll, and minor printing and publicity costs, like maintaining this web site. If you wish to make a donation, please click here, and note whether you would like for a portion of the proceeds to go to administration, which is always in need of funding.
In 2008, David took his friend and musical colleague John Smith to Guatemala, and John began talking about PEG at his concerts as well, with his own stories to tell about the impact PEG is having in Guatemala.
The work that PEG has done in Guatemala is not on a grand scale, but it is a testament to the significance of small efforts. Thousands of Guatemalan children have been touched by programs funded by PEG, and more are touched each day.