Chacaya Pronade School
Chacaya, Atítlan, Guatemala
Project investment: $12,000 US
For retaining wall and grading for school construction
Chacaya is a small village of 70 families on the shores of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. The people there, mostly Maya/Tzutujil, grow up speaking the indigenous Tzutujil language, and are therefore limited in their prospects, since the language of commerce and education in Guatemala is Spanish. They make their living as subsistence farmers, mostly growing beans and corn. Their average income is about $2 a day. Often this salary is used to maintain families of eight children or more.
In 2004 a committee of community parents opened the Chacaya Pronade School with a vision to educate children with few economic resources and to broaden their future opportunities. There is no entrance fee for students, which was relatively rare among Guatemalan schools when this school opened.
At that time, classes met in a makeshift school on a rented plot of land. In 2006, the Santiago-based Sharing the Dream Organization raised Q35,000 ($4,700 USD) to purchase a plot of land for a permanent home for the Pronade school. The Chacaya community donated a further Q5,000 for the plot of land. The parents’ committee then began work on creating a new permanent home for the Pronade school of Chacaya.
Building a school on the purchased plot of land was a formidable challenge. Before construction began, a retaining wall had to be built on the steeply sloping land, and quite a lot of grading had to be done. This cost roughly $10,000 USD, or approximately Q80,000.
PEG Partners and Sharing the Dream were excited to welcome the vision of Eric Keen and Jason Haney, who biked all the way across Canada in the summer of 2008 to raise money for this project. In so doing they raised $12,000, which covered the entire cost of the retaining wall and some other miscellaneous expenses, allowing construction on the school to begin.
The new school, a sturdy, clean building with flexibly designed teaching spaces, is now well-established. Students have been studying there since 2008. We visited there in early 2013, and all appears to be well.