A Highland Community designs their future
02.02.2013 - 02.02.2013 70 °F
When a small group of members from both PAVA Guatemala and PAVA Foundation headed up to the La Loma community on Saturday we were hoping to just get a look at the proposed site of the new PAVA Community Library and meet a few members of the COCODE which translates to Community Development Council. With Axel Parades, our volunteer architect in tow, we made it to the village around 10:30 am. I should not have been surprised to be welcomed by 13 or 14 villagers and the COCODE. They showed us to the current temporary library, which is a building owned by one of the villagers and on loan to the COCODE for the library. The room with the books is tiny perhaps 6 feet by 10 feet and it's filled with library books, a computer, a television and all the materials used for early childhood stimulation. Somehow they've managed to fit a chair in there too. The room sits in the middle of the building with flanked by two open air rooms for the children to use as reading rooms or for promoters to use for story time and early childhood stimulation. It is a start, but it is far from perfect. Even with four walls and a ceiling, the elements still manage to get in and in inclement weather, reading and other programs are suspended in the open ended rooms.
We drove a little further up the road past the school PAVA helped build two years ago to a property that is owned by the community and spans across the road. As we discussed where they'd like the library to be built the leaders told us that they were in communication with a lady that owns the property behind the community land on the right side of the road. They expressed a preference of having the library built there so they can have space to build a separate community center to the left of the library and a large playground across the road.
This young community has clear vision of how they want their village to look. I say it is a young community because Barbara encouraged them to tell us their story. They explained that all the young men used to go 45 minutes to an hour over an adjacent hill top and across a river to go to school. They were all part of a larger community. But the traveling was dangerous. As new families were forming one of the elders, Don Thomas asked about building a school in their community. The community was not a sanctioned official community in the eyes of the state. PAVA encouraged them to file paperwork to ensure they were an official community. They did so and received status as their own village with 33 families. After being incorporated as "La Loma" they proceeded to receive assistance from PAVA to build their school a three classroom building, hand washing stations and bathrooms. They also solicited SHARE Guatemala for the building of a kitchen. The community is very active and has a clear understanding of what they want in their village. It is a "dry village" in that they have banned the making and selling of alcohol within the village. They saw how productivity goes down with alcohol and how family violence goes up with it. So as a social decision, there is no alcohol there.
After reviewing what land they were talking about Axel asked about getting a drawing of the land. Fortunately, Dennis had though ahead and brought a 20 meter tape measure. The villagers were eager to help and Axel drew out a quick sketch of the property which he'll used to create a pretty accurate rendering of the land with the options for the building. I took a photo of his sketch brought it back to the house and used Photoshop to get a feel for what they were talking about. I look forward to see the architect's plans. I am so grateful that he is once again volunteering his services with this project. We know wee need to make changes to his original design, but I love that he is so creative.
Here is a photo of the completed library in Paxixil using Axel's design. It is quite innovative in that it uses panels made of bamboo that pivot in the center to open up for the doors. The library has been in operation for a few months now.