trip report - The Ohio State University

Guatemala Service Trip Assessment
Sydney Anderson, Randal Berkley, Mary Scherer, Aaron Treglia, Kevin Passino
The Ohio State University, Humanitarian Engineering Program
Humanitarian Engineering Scholars and Women in Engineering
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala (above, Volcano Tolimán on left, Volcano Atitlán behind it,
and Volcano San Pedro on right); Mayan woman in Chichi (below)
Day One: May 17, 2014: Saturday
- Flight from Columbus to Guatemala City
- Drove from Guatemala City to San Juan La Laguna which is on Lake Atitlán –
approximately a 4.5 hour drive
- Arrived in San Juan La Laguna, reserved rooms in Hotel Maya, ate dinner
there at Restaurant Maya, then watched a community basketball game
- Explored the community because it was a likely site for a Habit for Humanity
Guatemala build
- Positive: Beautiful community
- Negative: Very difficult to get to, winding switchbacks down a mountain
Day Two: May 18, 2014: Sunday
- Went to Chichicastenango (“Chichi”), shopped/checked out the market –
approximately two hour drive from San Juan La Laguna
- Visited with ASELSI (Association of Equipping the Saints International)
- ASELSI had only healthcare opportunities for the time being and was rented
out for the week; heavy focus on healthcare in future but some construction
and perhaps some education opportunities
- Drove to Panajachel (“Pana,” < 15,000 people) and secured a hotel (Posada
de los Volcanes) that we stayed in till Friday - a hotel used by Mayan Families
– about an hour to drive from Chichi to Pana.
- Located “Mayan Families” building (Mayan Families is the largest
nongovernmental organization – NGO – in Pana):
Mayan Families:
Day Three: May 19, 2014: Monday
- 10:30am meeting with Hannah from Mayan Families and toured Mayan
Families facility
- Mayan Families is an NGO founded in 2005
- The Mayan Families facility is split into 11 parts:
o Director Offices
o Donor Relations
o Marketing
o Store (for sales to visitors and donors – Mayan products – at fair trade
o Preschool
o IT
o Library
o Medical Building
o Computer Lab (about 20 laptops)
o Sewing Room
o Micro Finance Office
o Accounting Office
o Construction Office
o Carpentry School
Met with Sharon Smart-Poage (cofounder/co-director of Mayan Families),
Sara Luiza Kolata (architecture and green construction coordinator), and
Hannah LaPalombara (volunteer coordinator). After brainstorming, the
following ideas for OSU-Mayan Families projects were identified:
o K-12 STEM education at schools
 Definitely need cartoons with no language for experiment
construction procedures (Prof. Betty Lise Anderson
experiments) as mostly Spanish is spoken, but some Kaqchikel,
and it is clear that the more advanced technical terms do not
need to be introduced and pictures will suffice (in all cases?)
 Preschool (Age: 3‐5) at Mayan Families facility – could do
some STEM experiments for 5 year olds
 Mayan Families also associated with middle school (K-8?) not
within the facility
 Middle school may be better for some STEM experiments
 Mayan Families also supports schools for about 3000 people all
over the area (around the lake) and these could also be
candidate sites for STEM education
 Showed DC Motor demo to a four year old who was interested
in the project and capable of doing most of the steps
o Construction Projects – Natural building
 Research on natural building is needed (i.e. bamboo strength
and adobe brick chemical recipe for construction)
 Natural building (sustainable, local materials, traditional
building) effort led by Sara, an architect.
 Program format: Lectures/class (1 week)+Sweat work (~1
 Perhaps shorter term help is needed too, definitely for sweat
o Construction Projects - Schools
 New builds and renovations
 Mayan Families has about 3000 students in area plus 200
schools they work with
o Single Homes needs
 Stoves (to replace open fires in houses)
 Water filters (established system that they sell)
 Rain sequestration system (gutters + barrels?)
 Solar panels (with donor dollars)
 New construction (in natural building program with adobe
 Renovation (roof, gutters, room addition, for example)
o Sewing program: Learned about the sewing program that empowers
women. Traditionally in Guatemala machine sewing is a maledominated trade while hand-sewing is done by the women. Teaching
women machine sewing allows women to earn more money to
support their families. We saw a class in progress. We also saw the
classroom for automated embroidering (laptops connected to
embroidery machines). It seems that this program is also focused on
empowerment of women.
o Research opportunities
 Bamboo building for structures (research strength of bamboo
joint building, particularly multistory structures)
 Adobe brick durability
 Comparative study of light bulbs types, solar panel types, solar
lantern types
Day Four: May 20, 2014: Tuesday
- Talked to Dwight Smart-Poage (cofounder/co-director of Mayan Families),
Maria Fernandez (Mafer) (construction co-head & architect), Sara Luiza
- Travelled to El Barranco to visit a construction site for a pre-school
- Visited three homes to see living conditions so we could see first-hand the
needs that Mayan Families is trying to meet.
- Mayan Families representatives answered our questions:
o What hotels do people usually stay in?
 Mayan Families takes care of that (usually Hotel Kaqchiquel)
o Do they understand mathematical symbols (e.g. in STEM cartoons)?
 The students we work with should know
o Is there a local electronic supply store?
 Should be able to find them (we sent them a list of needed
parts and they will confirm that they are available locally). But
later found out that the parts are not available locally.
o Can we have a job description for the internship? An internship is a
multiple-month stay outside an envisioned OSU trip.
 Sara sent us job descriptions in an email for various different
internship positions, and Hannah sends out general
applications to interested students
o Are they concerned with lighting in homes? (solar lights, light bulbs)
 Easily incorporated into a house
 Mostly financial need for donating solar, not many
technological or research needs. D.Light not as good as
Sun King pro ($23-$86) (durable solar panel and bright light)
 There is a need to compare different types of light bulbs (LED
are ideal but too expensive) and determine the amount of time
a bulb needs to work to pay back relative to other bulbs,
particularly, a compact fluorescent bulb. But, that study would
only be useful to their donors – so they could create an
argument for providing LED bulbs. Would have to take into
account what is available in Guatemala.
 Note: They have a 3-day workshop for women on creating and
installing solar panels – for homes.
Is there interest in aquaponics?
 Not really, they said we could start a project on our own but
they weren’t looking to support such a project right now.
Is anyone helping people with disabilities? (wheelchairs and mental)
 There is some work that can be done for people with physical
disabilities (prosthetics for amputees etc.), but it doesn’t really
fit what we are looking for
Would you get access to clean water if we installed wells?
 Cheaper electronic answers (submersible pumps)
Would they be interested in making microfinance more computer
 “Mifos” has some multilingual
micro finance software for the world
 It would be of value to test it out to determine if it is valuable
for Mayan Family’s microfinance program, potentially cut
down the size of the open source software, and they would
need a computer with more computing power donated to
handle that size software. Seems that they would need help to
help the staff learn it.
Is there any way we could have the kids construct a 'computer'?
 To be further discussed based with Prof. Betty Lise Anderson
 Depends on how the initial STEM education projects go and on
availability of electronic parts
Do you have a need for computers? They have a significant need for
computers (laptops or desktops that have a flat screen monitor, but
those may be more difficult to ship) (windows XP and newer). The
preference for computers is those that have good computing power as
it seems that many of their computers are not only old (in some cases
>10 years) but ones without good computing power.
Do you have other IT needs? They have a need to have someone set up
their network properly (make sure there are no dead zones on their
wifi at their facility) and to set up network printers
Day Five: May 21, 2014: Wednesday
- Visited local hardware store (checked for electrical supplies for STEM
experiments, but did not find any)
- Visited “Maya Traditions” another local NGO (but much smaller than Mayan
o Organization that works with women weavers, and natural medicine
and sells product in the United States
o Did not see an opportunity to work with/for them, but perhaps they
could give people on our trips a tour of their activities (however, the
only part that is different from Mayan Families is the natural medicine
Returned to Mayan Families and discussed fundraising possibilities for the
HES program by working with the Mayan Families store. Would need to
determine what the funds would be for (e.g., to pay for some product to be
donated to some Mayan family). Idea now: Personalized hand-made
bracelets from weavers to sell to OSU students
Visited San Antonio which is a likely construction site for Summer 2015.
Day Six: May 22, 2014: Thursday
- Traveled to Universidad del Valle de Guatemala Altiplano in Sololá
o Met Erik—the head of Engineering department at the university
o The University only has an agricultural and forestry engineering
 Tour of Agricultural Engineering Experiments
 Patrick Brown showed us the “No energy” cooler
 Met Liz-Anne Wheeler and Jose, a student who is
conducting experiments with fungus as an alternative to
pesticides, and they showed us experiments that were
meant to improve the quality and quantity of postharvest produce
 Erik and Juan showed us the university’s greenhouse in
which they were conducting different experiments with
tomatoes and roses involving soil types and insect traps.
o Returned to Pana and visited “Friendship Bridge Organization”
(another NGO)
 Spoke with a microfinanceer
 He explained their microloan mission, but did not
indicate a need for volunteers
 Directed us to their website for more information
Day Seven: May 23, 2014: Friday
- Traveled from Panajachel to Antiqua at about noon, getting us much closer to
the airport in Guatemala City.
Day Eight: May 24, 2014: Saturday
- Traveled back to the US
Web Site: During the trip, we got approval for a web site that was requested from
the College and set up the initial web site:
We plan on filling out the details on this web site after returning to OSU (where we
will have a better internet connection).
In Panajachel, San José Pinguinos, Mayan girls playing the marimba, the Guatemalan
national instrument (click on picture to see video).
O-H-I-O with group of 11 Mayan boys, most of whom are shoe-shine boys, after
playing a soccer game with them.
O-H-I-O in front of Lake Atitlán (Volcano San Pedro in background)