THE JULIE MEMORIAL CLASSROOM PROJECT AT VALPARAISO, GUATEMALA
As explained in recent YouTube videos and newsletters, this project is in honor of Julie Andersen Versteeg who passed on suddenly on February 22nd, 2012. As shown below she was a key participant in the beginnings of the Guatemalan Foundation, and last of all was a long-time trustee of the Foundation. At her Memorial Service her family requested donations to the Foundation instead of flowers. $7,500 was raised for this project.
This all began in Guatemala, the "Land of the Mayas," the "Land of Eternal Spring, the "Heart of the Americas."
Specifically it happened in Santa Cruz Verapaz, Alta Verapaz--"The High Land of Eternal Peace"
It began in Paradise Valley, or "Valparaiso," among the Poqomchi-Mayan Indians, considered by some as the poorest area of Guatemala. Basically no education was available for the residents.
The evolution of education in the area is shown in this montage beginning with educational movies, then a class among the employees, and the first class for the children--Julie as the first teacher at 10 years old for the 6 little barefoot Poqomchi children. Then a full-time teacher, Zoel Gomez, was employed and authorization for the school was awarded by the government. The effort also included literacy and health classes for the women. The Valparaiso Plantation became known as The CID--the Center for Indian Development. The Foundation was then organized to help and the program grew, even being awarded First Place by the country's president in a Departmental Parade in 1980.
In 1981 the Valparaiso Community was formed independent of the plantation, but the Guerrilla War intensified in the area and the CID had to be closed. 2 acres of land were donated to the government for a school.
The people performed the volunteer labor. The Foundation provided construction materials.
The school was innaugurated in 1982 with protection from guerrilla attack provided by the Guatemalan Army.
The school grew over the years with additional classrooms constructed with help from the Foundation.
Eventually another building was constructed with 3 additional classrooms, the school having grown to 400 students by 2010
Also in 2010 the Foundation's volunteer Regional Director, Federico Veliz, helped the people incredibly establish there a Junior High School with 80 teenage students from 8 villages that surround the area.
That brought the attendance at the school to 480, all from the small beginning of 6 little children in Julie's first class.
Here we see the exploding student body in 2012.
Julie planted the seed with 6 little barefoot Poqomchi-Mayan children at Valparaiso in 1969
So it was decided that the best way to honor Julie was to help the seed she planted
continually grow by building a new classroom addition--for the Sixth Grade. We started with a couple of thousand dollars of the $7,500 we needed, but with the faith that the rest would come.
So our representative, Federico Veliz, went to work purchasing building materials and hauling to the warehouse built by the people of the area. Here they are unloading cement.
Trenches were dug for the classroom that would be added on to the first building and extended to attach to the kitchen.
The workers broke away the cement from the original building to expose the construction steel and join the new structure to it.
To be able to resist earthquakes everything is strengthened and tied together with construction steel and cement, such columns also holding up the roof to keep it from collapsing.
Up go the walls.
The gaps in the wall have the construction steel tied into the steel embedded in the cement foundations, and will be tied into the steel in the last tier, all filled in with rock hard cement.
As inferred the gaps in the wall with construction steel will be filled in with cement .
The workers take their break, participating with the children who received a nutritional supplement mid-morning.
Usually this nutritional drink is INCAPARINA, a high protein product developed by the Nutritional Institute of Central America and Panama. Below is seen the kitchen with a huge pot on their wood stove preparing their INCAPARINA.
Federico is closely supervising the classroom construction to also be able to remodel this kitchen.
During break it looks like a group of girls are training to be cheerleaders.
At the same time 3 of the boys practice for an upcoming parade around their soccer field.
Back to the construction.
The workers are finishing the walls. The window and door openings are ready for the steel windows, "balcones," and doors being made in a metal working shop. "Balcones" are the steel grates or bars that are installed over the windows to keep thieves out.
Federco is supervising a needed foundation to be able to extend the cement corridor you see a couple of pictures below .
The workers are preparing to lay the cement slab.
Other workers are mixing the cement.
Almost finished with the cement corridor.
The forms are put in place to be able to complete the cement/steel beam that goes around the whole building that will hold up the roof.
Wood for the roof has been hauled to the site and stood up as seen to dry in preparation to be treated to prevent termites and rot.
Galvanized tin roofing material has been purchased and is being stored.
A new update is expected within a couple of days.
Thanks for all your help--as we have now for sure the $7,500 needed for the basic construction--thanks to all of you.
We still need a bit more for the desks, blackboards, furniture and reconstruction of the school kitchen. We of course have to keep up on our other projects and be ready when emergencies arise, like you will see at the end of this report, so help all you can.
Hopefully the next UPDATE will show the completed project. We will then turn this slide show into a YouTube video to show in just a few minutes 10 year old Julie planting the educational seed with the first 6 little barefoot Indian children in 1969, then the evolution of this wonderful 480 student school up to The Julie Memorial Classroom and Kitchen Project in 2012.