Saturday, November 30, 2019

SAJSIB'AN- The name means white rock in in Ixil and is the name of one of villages eight miles west of our farm. The village is named after six vertical stones that lie in the forested peak behind the men in this photo. The stones were erected around 250 A.D. during the classic period of Mayan history. The remoteness of the site and the height above the surrounding valleys give certainty that the site was used as for sacred ceremonies. This last year as we hiked and worked in these mountains to bring water to the 357 homes of Sajsib'an it still held a sacredness. The natural beauty, the effort men of the village, the shear immensity of the project and the goal to meet such a basic need all added to reinforce the feeling. I invite you to celebrate with us and our sponsors- The Carson Foundation, Rotary Gig Harbor, Gary Glen Foundation and the Anderson family- the completion of the
                                          SAJSIB'AN WATER PROJECT 2019
                                     357 HOMES and 1,600 HAPPY BENEFICIARIES

It sounds so sure and simple. A gravity feed water system. Collecting the spring water in the picture to the right and passing it through piping to reach the tank site on the left. But what the two picture don't show is the three hours of hard hiking full of ravines, landslides, old growth tree roots and  rocks  that lie between them making this a epic task.

 Trenching across the mountain was done by pick and shovel to lay 740 4 inch P.V.C. pipes placed in over two miles of ditch.

 To be able to successfully work in community development take vision and commitment not only from the organization that desires to help but from the community leaders themselves.
I would like to include on our thanks some of the men in this picture. Over four years ago Diego and Roberto searched the mountains for a spring to service the village. They latter organized the village in the purchase of the spring and brought a project request to our office.

Another need was to more supplies for a collection tank at the spring head. Mules and horses were used to carry sand, gravel and cement for the first two hours of the hike but for the last hour of the journey the trail was too tough.

Really there was no trail other than the one we made buy our constant journeys.

Shear effort for a cause. All of this manual labor is the  contribution of the village towards their water system. T.R.E. only covers wages of technical labor and materials.

Collection tanks are always kept simple so as not to disturb the site more than necessary. The location of this spring was on such a steep hillside that a wood platform built on stilts was needed to mix the cement on. From the mixing platform you can see the white of a concrete tower on the other side of the ravine. To cross the distance between the two points a 60 meter cable will be needed to hang the pipe from.

Three different places we encounters ravines that where we needed to string cable from concrete towers to hang the piping from in order to cross them. So a human chain was formed to carry 60 meter pieces of cable into the forest.

 Although exhausting I personally loved the hiking. Some of the places we went through the canopy was so thick I don't think the sun ever touched the ground.

Hanging pipe from a simple cart we constructed over one of the ravines. You can see the concrete tower used to support the cable and a crew of men on the other side. This is the second ravine we crossed.
Pieces of rebar were bent to form hooks to hang the pipe on.

The first crossing with the spring in the distance                    Pulling cable took many hands

By teamwork and dedication after three months of work we passed through forest to the tank site.

The site chosen for the tank was still half an hour hike above the village. The village leaders wanted to construct the tank there to allow for future growth of the village above the present homes. 
After excavating the tank site a grid of rebar was tied in place.

700 more bags of sand, gravel and cement were carried to be used in the construction of the 21 foot square holding tank.

Hand mixing the cement was a whole village effort with around a 100 men present each day. 

Bucket lines were made to pass the cement to its final destination.

After completing the wall forms our two local masons we employed sit for a photo.
They take pride in their part building a quality crafted water tank and along with the rest of the men they have memory that will follow them throughout their lives. "Remember when we built our water system." This type of healthy ownership is built by being sweat partners in the work.

I would like to invite you to see some of the faces of the workers who with the help of our international sponsors have done what many would say could not be done. It has taken a huge effort and $50,000 but one village celebrates every time each family member opens a faucet of clean running water and this celebration will continue though the years to come.

From the village of Sajsib'an, high in the mountains of Guatemala to all our supporters

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Garden Training

 It has been a lone time since I wrote a blog. It is not because we have not been busy. The truth is our growth and our service to the Ixil people have keep me too busy to tell the story that I see unfolding around me. But the story has many chapters and should be told. I want to make another attempt and share a small tale about what is happening in our garden program.
 A little over two years ago we bought a farm site and named it Eden Ixil. Paradise in the midst of poverty. It is a bold title and a cry for change. We have been using the site for an experimental farm, nursery for growing plants and a training center. Tuesdays and Thursdays find us busy giving garden clases to over 500 family gardeners. Here Felipe gives a chalk talk with many practical props. As I have reviewed these photos one thing tht has impressed me is the attention I see being given by the women. We are seeding not only gardens but hearts and minds. Change, change is coming I can see it and feel it. It started with an embrace of love for those in need. It is yet to be seen where it will lead us to but change is knocking on the door.
We mix class room talks, full of living examples, with the work that we are doing in the gardens to help fortify the garden program. Here Felipe shares some pointers on the width of garden beds and how to layer compositing materials to help us work towards a low till, high fertility garden.
 We then take the chalk talks and move them to the field. Half of our gardeners start with soil that is so poor it makes better adobe than garden soil. For them we teach how to make a compositing bed.
 The materials needed are readily availible in the forrest and fields. Adding leaves, brush, manures and composited soil to a bed is like a deposit in the bank. It gains interest and gives its returns not in one crop but for years to come.
 We teach if you give to the earth, if you change the soil texture and fertility the earth will give back to you and your family food in a sustainable harvest.
There is power in a seedling. There is power in an idea and a teaching. Change, positive change is on the horizon.

 We see it is small plots of carrots and Swiss chard. We see it in the fruit hanging behind this woman, a new plant called Pepino Dulce, that gives a melon tasting harvest twice a year.
We hear it in the pride of a young gardener when she begs us to come see her work.
We sense it in the potential of a new family who has proven their desire to work and now is ready to change plastic and sticks for the garden wire that will be distributed.

This year 100 new gardens will be fenced.

Each week we try and distribute 1,000 seedlings.

and teach two garden clases. We often have the training sessions in the villages.

 After ever class we distribute seedlings and fruit trees so they can take home not just a teaching but the tools to implement it with.

'Hands on' is not just a by-word but a daily practice.
We are training the old.

and the young are listening.

I have been down here almost 12 years now. I am passing the torch as we train the trainers. Felipe is one of our three trainers.
 They are sharing a teaching that includes hope and self respect.
And the people are listening.

We are all happy with the progress and results..

The people we serve live simply and their needs are real. Here a young mother ties a piece of plastic for a garden fence so she can get started. When she proves her desire with the work of her hands, we will then approve wire for the corral.

Our reward is smiles. graditude and the harvest to come.

I often listen to and think about the open discusión ' How to help the por'. It is a complicated question to solve but when I am in the field and see the need, the effort and the people I think why not do something. Use our best judgment but move from a thought or desire to action. We plant seeds with families like this one. They will mix them with their efforts and own ideas and dreams. The full reality of what will come is yet to be seen but I can feel it. Positive change is birthed in love. It happens in your family as you care for your children and it can happen in the world at large. Let's join hearts and hands and move forward to a better tomorrow.

Mateo sharing how to manage a compost pit
Villagers from nueve puntos receiving  fruit trees
 A widow in Sotzil preparing seedlings to be shared with her garden group.
Harvest time bring better nutrition into the home.
 Here in Ilom as I prepare seedlings to distribute you can see the pipes for our wáter project. We also have built 40 stoves and helped 30 families with clothing  in the village this year.  Today T.R.E. is active in 14 villages. You support in action!
It benefits many like this garden class in the village. There is power in loving actions. Let's us be doers of the good in this world.
Rosa is telling me how big the plants are growing. I am planting a garden with love, in the midst of great need, for the generation a hand and the one yet to come. Change, positive change is coming. Join us in making it a reality.