After a month-and-a-half of traveling from place to place in southern Mexico, I was looking to settle for a week or two in a nice, peaceful environment. Guatemala was the next country down and it seemed like a beautiful place to help out the local population. After some research I landed on the Long Way Home project and headed to Comalapa. During the first few days I helped out where I could around the construction site, mixing all kinds of materials to cover the tire walls. I was eventually assigned to be Raul's assistant for some electrical work. After figuring out a few important Spanish words of the trade - wire, outlets, current...shocks - I really got into it! At the end of the week I had no intention of leaving this beautiful place as I had originally planned.
During my second week I kept on doing electrical work (my new specialty) and quickly gained some autonomy and trust from the work crew. I worked on multiple little projects and started to appreciate the positive impact I was having here. Lights and outlets started working for the first time, which is great for a construction site which uses power tools! Two weeks had now gone by, yet there was so much more I could do here...
Over the weekend I consulted my family back in Canada and found a great deal of interest and support for what was going on here. My grandparents really liked seeing the pictures of the students in the beautiful classrooms and they made it financially possible for me to stay for two more weeks! I have now been volunteering here for a month and it has been a great experience!
So here I am on my last days at LWH, thinking of the amazing times passed and the little routine I settled into here: walking up to the construction site every morning through the strawberry and corn fields, working for a few hours in the morning anticipating snack time at 10:00 when a lady brings a ton of delicious little Guatemalan dishes, succeeding and failing at different electrical puzzles throughout the day and going to bed totally exhausted after a good dinner. That's a pretty satisfying day, no?
I was originally attracted to the project because of the recycled materials used for the buildings and by the prospect of learning how to build them, but that is not why I stayed. Working side by side with the primary school full of tiny little kids enjoying the incredible domed shiny structures which they call their classrooms really gave a meaning to all the hard work.
A big thanks to the incredible people at LWH who make life here so amazing and meaningful. Good luck with the project and spreading the recycled materials building method; it's the future.
Á la revoyure!
William Mondou, Québec