Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Sustainable Construction in Guatemalan Highlands Guatemala



We began operations in San Juan Comalapa, in the indigenous highlands of west-central Guatemala, in 2004, with a grassroots, community development strategy to bring local residents together to learn about eco-friendly living, sustainable technologies, and improved waste management solutions. Together with a local NGO and our neighbours, we transformed five acres of rural land into a community park. In lieu of the .25 admission, we charged a plastic bottle stuffed with trash, called “eco-bricks”. This created a stream of building materials for our current construction project: building a school. In December of 2008, LWH purchased land one mile from Comalapa's city center. We began construction of the 18-building green academy, Tecnico Chixot, using re-purposed trash and alternative methods. The structures are robust in their structural integrity, offer additional resistance to seismic activity, and incorporate natural indoor climate controlling properties. At the completion of construction, the school will have the capacity for over 300 students from K-12. The curriculum will be focused on environmental education and alternative solutions, educating the next generation of uniquely skilled entrepreneurs in this community. Currently we have 130 students K-9, and employ over 40 local residents between the school and construction staff, impacting not just local educational options, but the economy as well! We have already turned over 400 tons of trash into 14 buildings and, with your help, we can continue our impact locally and globally.


Long Way Home

San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango

None required / speaking Spanish, alternative construction, youth development, education, or non-profit experience are all skills you can bring to the table or develop with us.

Dates of program:
Year round

Duration of program:
1 week to 3 months

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 18+ (children accepted if accompanied by parents or in a chaperoned group with parental permission given)

US$85 per week which includes a bed in our communal volunteer house, fresh bedding every two weeks, kitchen staples (drinking water, propane, cooking oil, salt, sugar, etc.), and on-site training. Approximately 50% of your payment goes directly toward project expenses including construction materials and labour. Homestay options are available for US$100 per week or the option of a local family owned hotel is available for US$130 per week (this option is not available for the moment due to Covid).

Other information:
The rainy season is mid–May to mid–October and construction tasks can vary depending on the weather. There are many hiking areas in Comalapa, and we can offer different types of activities to do here during your free time. Painting, Spanish and cooking class, horse and coffee tours are available. There are many areas to visit in Guatemala as well, including Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Tecpan and Tikal. We can help you book weekend excursions as well.


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