Tuesday, November 25, 2014


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NEWSLETTER #8 November 2014  + Cover letter 
"You've Kept Up the Good Fight"  and Transitions some called "failures"  
& Newsletter: "Future of Patzicia, New Representarive for Patzicia, &
Chiquiguital & Valparaiso Projects"
Note:  Except for the Cover Letter, many more details & photos are in the photo/essay below.

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By Cordell M. Andersen 
"All things temporal, sooner or later, come to an end." 

Such is the case with what we have called  recently,The Patzicia School. Officially it has been the Andersen School for  about 30 years. Originally in 1976 it was the John Paul II School, and many from Patzicia have continued to call it that until today, which doesn't bother me as it was never my idea to put the Andersen name on the school..

After a darn good run of 32 years financed by the Guatemalan Foundation (previously The Foundation for Indian Development) it will now close.  For all of those 32 years the Director has been our good friend and brother, Professor Humberto Xicay.  Thousands have studied at the school, many hundreds going on to become successful in many fields of endeavor for which we are proud, and grateful for having played a part in their success.

We express our deepest  appreciation to many who have continually donated over all these years, but especially to three who carried the bulk of the load:  To get our sponsorship started, it was  my father, Dr. Ariel Andersen and his wife and my mother, Ines.  Following them were the Pingree brothers, Toby bringing on board his brother,  Dr. George Pingree,  whose generosity never wavered.  For nearly the last  two decades the load has been carried by my second cousin,  Joe Jensen, whose  gifts have been partially matched by his employer Pfizer Inc through the Pfizer Foundation.


Our work in the Patzicia area will continue under the guidance of a young man, Mario de la Cruz, who  for the last 14 years has been a key influence at the Patzicia School--for a number of years as a volunteer, and in recent years as the School Secretary. Mario,  as a  partner/volunteer with the Foundation we have aided him in getting his higher education achieving his Teaching Degree, and soon he will earn a further degree in Law.  We see him below with the patriarch of the Chuluc Village, Don Maximo, who was the Village leader back in 1986-87 when the Foundation built a school there in honor of my parents who were  organizers in 1969  of what is today the GUATEMALAN FOUNDATION.
"Make it the best small rural school in Guatemala!"
For 2015 Mario will be one of the teachers at the School.  The Foundation will pay his wage as we have done at the school for many years.  We will work closely with him in helping the school become a "MODEL RURAL SCHOOL,"  as we have done at the Valparaiso/Rio Frio School in Alta Verapaz.  In addition to working hard to make sure the children of this needy village receive the kind of education that will make possible continuing  their education on graduation from 6th grade,  we will help those interested and qualified to do so as it will require travel daily to and from Patzicia.


It started with the people from Chiquiguital Village requesting help from the Foundation through our representative, Professor Federico Veliz (Pacay).  He presented a plan to the Foundation and with the villagers, unanimously willing to work hard doing their part, the project was set in motion.
  Federico hauled in his 1987 Toyota 4x4 pickup the materials to the end of the road, and teams from the village hauled on their backs the construction materials to their village--a 2 hour hike over mountain trails as you see above.

The Foundation, through Federico, employed the necessary skilled labor to build an addition to the school, doubling the number of classrooms, rebuilding the sanitary facility, and helping to rebuild homes of 4 very needy families...two of them widows, which will be reported on later.

The construction was finished in record time, and the date of the inauguration set for October 15th.

The hard working women of the village got up early on the 15th to begin preparing a special luncheon for the visiting authorities and all the villagers.  We see them below to the left.
The humble people of Chiquiguital are a very religious people and began the celebration with a mass in the Catholic Chapel, accompanied by music from the National instrument, the marimba.

Next the visiting Catholic Priest blessed the new construction, while the villagers moved the marimba and other instruments outside to the porch  of the new building in preparation for the program.

Village leaders and visiting authorities spoke to the group and then a series of presentations were made to Federico, representing the GUATEMALAN FOUNDATION, to express gratitude to him, the Foundation and all its donors who made possible this project.....to bless the growing group of school students. 
 Education for a time was stagnated in Chiquiguital due to the original school  being burned down by the insurgency in the 30 year long Guerrilla War which ended in 1996.

One of the presentations expressing gratitude was made by a young lady, a student in the school, and a letter of appreciation was signed by the village and municipal leaders and was given to Federico for the Foundation.

A plaque was unveiled on the wall of the new school building expressing gratitude to Foundation leaders..

Then all visiting authorities, school personel and village leaders sat down for a traditional lunch.  The women and children also had their fill of  SACIC....a thick corn gruel, heavily spiced, with turkey meat, and corn tamales.

 IN Santa Cruz Verapaz, Alta Verapaz.

The history of education in Paradise Valley began in 1968 with the showing of educational movies in an old warehouse on the Valparasio Plantation;  Next an adult literacy and Spanish class for the employees after work each week day was held in a feed storage room;  Then Julie Andersen between 10-11 years old began a little class with 6 barefoot Indian children that eventually evolved into a  formal private school authorized by the government;  It grew to 110 students in 0-6 grades, and in 1980 with the help of the Foundation for Indian Development, participated in the Departmental Parade in Coban and won First Place from Guatemala's President Lucas.  By then adult literacy classes were going forward for the women.

But, in 1981 the Guerrilla War invaded Alta Verapaz and made it unsafe for the Andersen family and the Foundation's educational projects to continue.  A several acre property was donated to the government by the Andersen Family for the construction of a school that would be run by the government with protection from the Army.  The Foundation donated the building materials, the good people of Valparaiso and Rio Frio donated labor and a new government school was born, and inaugurated  in 1982 with  Israeli uniformed and armed Guatemalan Army soldiers guarding the perimeter against attack.

Over the years the school grew and the Foundation helped the people construct more classrooms, and then it continued to grow and more classrooms were constructed on the lower level along the river.

Over the 32 year history of the school (to 2014), more projects and improvements were made with help from the Foundation and its donors.  Like the Julie Memorial Classroom, built in 2012 in her honor as the "First volunteer," and "First teacher" in Paradise Valley.  The school kitchen was rebuilt at that time.

Each year the Foundation has distributed school supplies to all the children at Valparaiso, and to as many as 6,000 rural students in the village schools of Santa Cruz Verapaz.

Then several years ago, spearheaded by our Regional Director, retired professor Federico Veliz (Pacay), a Junior High School was organized and set up to function using the same school facilities, but in the afternoons.  It has grown to 97 students this year, students coming from the 7 villages that surround the school, one even from the far off Chiquiguital Village featured above.

But with all the growth and use by elementary students in the morning, and junior high school youth in the afternoons, there was crying need for improvements--for example with the worn out, and inadequate sanitary facilities we see above, built in 1982.  It was so bad that most students rather would seek seclusion in the thick underbrush along the river for their needs.

Federico studied the needs with the Improvement Committee and teaching staff and began helping the community organize to make needed improvements, getting as much help from government agencies as possible, like for new sanitary facilities

We started with a needed secure storeroom for the kitchen and school needs, then a retaining wall creating a first level courtyard, next a long stairway down to the lower level classrooms, and new sanitary facilities.  Next a drainage system to control the torrential rains coming off the upper level buildings.  Last of all washing facilities all around the restrooms.  Inauguration of all these projects was set to coincide with graduation and the end of the school year on October 30th. The progress of all these constructions can be seen in previous posts.

The children, and many parents gathered on October 30th.  Graduates from Kindergarten, and from Sixth Grade were all given diplomas.  Then it was time for the inauguration of the GUATEMALAN FOUNDATION'S projects, with our Regional Director, Professor Federico Veliz, and representing me, my daughter, Aura Marina Andersen, seen below.

To the left Federico is speaking to the gathering.  In the blue jacket is, Alfredo Isem Quej, Director of the Valparaiso/Rio Frio School.  Next to him is one of the  teachers.  To the right, Julio Poou Chen, from the Chiquiguital Village School Board, presents Aura a nice engraved plate expressing gratitude to the me and the Foundation for having helped in the projects in his village.

It was then time to visits the projects, first  storage room, cutting  the ribbon and using the key to open the door, the key then presented to the Director of the School, afterwhich they inspected the nice secure room that now will soon be filled up with supplies of the nutrition program, and other needs of the school.  To the left below we see the nice wall, with its iron safety structure to keep the children from climbing and falling.  Then we see it from down  below, and observe Federico, the teachers and visiting authorities coming down the stairway.

Down on the first level we observe the new restrooms, and washing sinks, as well as the drainage gutter coming down from the first level.

Foundation representatives, teaching staff and visiting authorities were then invited  into one of the classrooms and served a traditional luncheon..."SACIC with turkey and corn tamales."

A plaque was installed on the wall thanking Foundation representatives for having helped  in these projects during the 2014 school year.

Our representatives couldn't leave the school without getting for me a picture of the caretaker's two sons....the youngest having been saddled down with a name of he who they  call his "God father."  

Federico and Aura then visited the home we built earlier this year for the three orphan children who we see working at cleaning up a problem recently caused by torrential rains.

Then a visit was made to one of our old Valparaiso friends--CHAVELA, who for many years lived with us at the Central House with her two daughters, Marta and Elvira.  She lives off of profits from sales  from her tiny store in the front of her home. Towering over her is David, Chepina's son, who I raised for his first 30 days, and then Chepina survived and took over, and it looks like he is becoming a GIANT!.


We will first finish the year with two Christmas projects 

1.   For the neediest of the needy in Santa Cruz Verapaz giving each a Christmas gift...something of great usefullness  for them.  These will be the blind, the deaf, the crippled, the widows, and the elderly who are alone.

2.  To begin a NEW ERA IN THE CHULUC VILLAGE at the Ariel & Ines Andersen School, we will cooperate with the parents and villagers in celebrating Christmas with a party complete with simple gifts for each child, and a luncheon for all.

We will  then begin accumulating funds for our first 2015 Projects

1.    The School Supplies Project for the rural schools in Santa Cruz Verapaz, and for the Chuluc School... we.will kick off the New Year and the beginning of school with this project, and make sure all the children have the school supplies they need to immediately begin the learning process.

2.  At the same time, begin with Mario de la Cruz, our new challenge at the Ariel & Ines Andersen Chuluc Village School....paying his monthly wage, and step by step improve the school to make it the best small rural school in the country.

3.  Then in Santa Cruz Verapaz, in accordance with funds available, begin attending to the most worthy and urgent projects in the villages with emphasis on helping the schools improve and be the best they can be.


NEWSLETTER #8 November 2014 + Cover letter

NEWSLETTER #8 November 2014  Cover letter 
"You've Kept Up the Good Fight"  and Transitions some called "failures"  
& Newsletter: "Future of Patzicia, New Representarive for Patzicia, &
Chiquiguital & Valparaiso Projects"

Page 1

Page 2

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Letter from Patzcia Graduate - Links to past projects & The CHIQUIGUITAL PROJECT


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NUEVO Reportaje de Chiquiguital en Spanish
Click here to see in SPANISH....Apachar aqui para ver  en español

Click here for NEW:  
NEWSLETTER #7 September 2014
The CHIQUIGUITAL PROJECT Where Cattle Rustlers & Guerrillas Roamed

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To view the  YouTube video:

CHIQUIGUITAL SCHOOL  & VILLAGE  PROJECTS...(updated progress below)...Oct. 15th
VALPARAISO/RIO FRIO SCHOOL PROJECTS.......along with Graduation........... Oct. 28th



UPDATE September 27th - scroll down for pictures of progress

A Breathless & Heroic Adventure Up Where Cattle Rustlers & Guerrillas roamed!
We are seeing the
mountains of
Santa Cruz
where the 
resisted the 
in 1525....
where I pursued
cattle rustlers 
in 1974,
where today
Federico Veliz
and the 
work to rebuild a 
school burned down by the Guerrillas
in 1982.
Early on August 29th our Director, Federico Veliz, had has pickup loaded and was on the way up into the mountains south of Valparaiso, through the Najquitob Village, and on to the end of the road at Pancalax where the men from the Chiquiguital Village were waiting for him to go to work hauling construction materials through the mountains to their village--2 hours distant over mountain trails.
In the beginning (1968) the entire trip was following slippery trails from Paradise Valley up to Naquitob and on to Chiquiguital--at least a 3-4 hour hike.  Eventually we helped build a narrow  4 wheel drive road up to Naquitob.  A few years later the government improved that road, as you see in the above picture, and over the years pushed it on into the mountains  to Pancalax cutting the hike to Chiquiguital down by half.

Federico greeted the volunteers and began getting them organized into two teams.  The second would have to wait for him to get down to civilization and bring in another load.

The first team soon began loading up and soon were on their way up into the mountains towards their village.  The stronger were carrying 100 lb. bags of cement.  Others, 40 lb. bags of lime, and other materials.

We note that pretty well all of them are using tumplines to carry their loads. A tumpline is  a rope that secures the load with the weight carried  by a cloth, but usually a leather strap across the front top of the head, using the spine rather than the shoulders as standard backpacks do.  This is used very commonly in Mexico and Central America to transport heavy loads across uneven terrain.  This was pretty exclusively used  in the opening up of the West by the mountain men and fur trappers to carry their loads.  An interesting story of fairly recent date is of a Mexican Indian delivering a piano using his tumpline!   

Above we note, as they continue up the narrow trail--that can get real slippery when it's raining, the now typical foot-gear of the volunteers, rubber boots, usually with no socks.  Back in the beginning of our adventure in 1967 almost all of them were  barefoot, or at best with sandles made out of old tires.  In these remote areas many elderly people still  go barefoot.

Not only is this great effort reminiscent of early adventures pursuing cattle rustlers over these same trails, but also of when we first met Federico Veliz who was a teacher in the remote Pambach Village.   Chiquiguital, from Pambach,  is located up the zig-zag trail and over the pass you see in the background.

In those early days in the 1970's we trained two of our students as "health promoters" and sent them on horseback  into the mountains to find and treat the sick. 
They were Pablo Xona and Ricardo Cho we see above ready to head into the mountains. I notice Pablo is wearing my High Uinta rain parka....really needed in a land where, when being sent there in 1958 (to Alta Verapaz area) as a missionary, was told it rained 15 months a year!  When living there a decade later I kept track one year and found it was only 13 months of rain that year.

 They met Federico and learned they needed help to build a school.  Eventually we sent teams of our volunteers  on weekends to Pambach to meet the people and learn of their needs.  They carried a portable generator (150 lbs.) between two, with others carrying a 16 mm. movie projector, etc.  and taking turns with the generator,  and showed there the first movies every seen in Pambach.  After the evening show they returned to Valparaiso, hiking all night to report for  work on Monday morning.....INCREDIBLE VOLUNTEERS!
My manager, Miguel Max, represented me and the Foundation making an agreement with Federico (on the right) to help them build their school.

We began making trips with our team of volunteers carrying construction materials and staying a night in the village....and of course the generator and movie projector had to be part of the effort as the people of Pambach were hooked on movies!  Here we see a team of two from Pambach, taking turns carrying the 150 lb. generator.

Rather than awkwardly carrying the generator using its handles between two, they preferred using their tumplline,  as you see here I recall vividly a bunch of us resting with our (light) loads at a point where there was a short-cut trail straight up the mountain, rather than the switch backing one we would use.  This incredible volunteer from Pambach appeared and didn't even hesitate, but went straight up the mountain taking the short-cut!
It became for me a great example of how much more effective it is to help Indians help themselves, rather than using us wimpy gringo volunteers that would take incredible expense to get to Guatemala--to just take the easy switch backing route (a metaphor).

Of course I'll have to admit that these couple of "wimpy gringos,"  also on the trail to Pambach to help in the work, often come out of these kinds of experiences being enthusiastic contributors to keep the work going--supporting their Maya/Poqomchi brothers and sisters who can get most tasks accomplished with a little guidance, and financial support.  Hey, JOLENE (my sister), and RICH (my son), please forgive me for joking (seriously) about you and most of the rest of us gringos.

The point being PRAISE FOR OUR TOUGH  Mayan brothers and sisters who work incredibly hard, and THE IMPORTANCE OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT from us to help them get the jobs done!  

Above we see Rich again--this time with a load in his orange colored backpack, led by his brother, Dave, carrying some tools.

Again, on another trip to Pambach, we see Dave in the middle--it looks like with a load using my World War II Army surplus rucksack (I still use it for hunting with a bit of re-construction).

In addition to helping construct the school in Pambach, we always offered medical services....here with Miguel Max examining a little girls eye and below injecting a sick woman.

Here is the finished school we helped them build....against all odds, as the owner of the land all around Pambach wouldn't let us through his property to do this project, and made "death threats"  against me and Federico.

A few years later the guerrillas moved into the area recruiting and forcing the people to help them, and  coercing  cooperation by destroying the school and killed some of the villagers,  placing them between a "rock & a hard place"  as the Army in their desperation to keep Guatemalan from becoming another Cuba also did terrible things in Pambach to stop the cooperation with the guerrillas and win the war.
The guerrillas also attempted to recruit me into their ranks as they knew I had experience  in the Army, and also Federico Veliz, with the threat of assassination if we didn't 
 accept. I moved my family back to the U.S. and couldn't live at Valparaiso for several years, and only made quick, unannounced visits to Valparaiso to keep the business going, finally learning that a friend became the leader of the guerrillas in the area and he defended me telling his troops to leave me alone due to our years of effort to help the people.  Federico was transferred to another area, and for years had to be very careful.. 

So above in the foreground we see the ruins of the school we helped build, and in the background the new school we eventually helped them build.....but then with a road into the area to carry materials.

Above is a relatively recent photograph of the students in front of the Pambach Village School showing the educational materials the Foundation provides every year to thousands of rural students in the area.
For a Success Stores report that includes the Pambach story, go to:
Schools/kitchens & libraries.


It was on this trail in 1974 that the cattle rustlers took our cattle south towards Salama at night.  Armed, and with my "posse" of the most astute Indians I could find,  we followed the trail and asked along the way any people who lived near the trail whether they had seen cattle  being moved south.  Once in a while we found someone who said they had heard it happening late at night, so we continued towards Chiquiguital where the leads pointed south into lower lands of Salama where the green of Alta Verapaz ends, and it turns into the hot, thorny, desert like country of Baja Verapaz.

As I reported in the previous post introducing the Project at Chiquiguital, we eventually had to drive around to Salama and hiked 3 hours north towards Alta Verapaz, found the cattle, and with the help of the police put the rustlers behind bars.

Years later my lawyer became the one who had defended the rustlers, and then I learned "the rest of the story,"  one part of which was that  they wrapped the hoofs of the cattle with pieces of old blankets used by the poor and moved the cattle at night as silently as possible without leaving hoof prints.

We are still seeing rhe first team as it winds its way towards their village.

Along the way a young man comes down the trail from Chiquiguital--
A JUNIOR HIGH STUDENT AT THE VALPARAISO SCHOOL heading for his afternoon studies.

Federico is making his second or third trip  and meets the second team waiting to go to work.


UP THE TRAIL......noticing that this team has several young boys 

Now downhill towards the village....by the way, a "village" in rural Guatemala is rarely a cluster of homes all around a central park and church, but rather the school, and usually a chapel, but the homes are scattered all over  the mountainsides where each lives on the property they cultivate for subsistence.

They arrive at the school, and head for a temporary warehouse they have built for the construction materials.


The main objective is  to help them build 3 classrooms and we are now ready to get started,  but first a typical meal for all the villagers who worked so hard to haul in the construction materials.

The women and children greet their husbands, and have ready for them some delicious "sacic"  the traditional food from the Poqomchi area--a sort of corn gruel, heavily spiced, and with turkey meat, along with small corn tamalitas., all prepared in  the school kitchen by other volunteers as we see below.

Afterwards they will meet in their chapel to give thanks for this project getting started.

Their Catholic chapel was built with the help of the Nuns from the College of the Defenseless (or Abandoned) from San Cristobal Verapaz, Alta Verapaz

The task of hauling construction materials is done the Foundation has hired a couple of experienced brick masons ("albañils") who Federico reports to me are working from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. $5,000 has been provided for this project.  I expect any day now some updated photographs that I will add to this post as soon as I get them.

That is the way our first report ended.....to that point the last few days in August.  The construction started immediately, but due to the isolation of the village our Director Federico was not able to take day by day progress photographs of the construction. as he does for most of our projects, ..so below we begin the 

 UPDATE of what has been accomplished during the last month.

The new building with three classrooms is nearly finished as we see in the above photo and the next three.

 We have had to add a few crucial items that will cost an additional $1,500 to the initial budget for the project, which are: :

1.  We need to have constructed iron grates, or as we say in Spanish, "balcones,"  that will be installed on all the windows.

2.  We will help them install rain gutters on the roofs with the  water carried in 4" plastic tubing to storage containers to use for the needs of the school, as the entire village obtains 
all of its water from just one spring, making water a precious and scarce item.

3.  As previously mentioned we won't be constructing new sanitary facilities, but the ones they have need to be improved with new cement floors, and a new roof.

4.  The 4 poorest and most needy families in the village will be aided with reconstruction and repairs on their homes....all of them shown next in  this report.

The people from Chiquiguital are very poor to say the least, but there are a few families that even by rural Guatemalan standards are extreme poor as we see here.  Many homes nowdays have tin roofs, but some still have roofs of the only material in the area that is abundantly available  and inexpensive--sugar canes leaves.  It only lasts for at most a couple of years.

They do have crude structures for their animals--usually a few chickens, turkeys, and of course a dog or two.  They are turned loose during the day to forage for themselves, but the  chickens and turkeys are shut up, as in these mountains there are predators--weasels, foxes, coyotes, etc.  The poultry are also kept in the coops after planting their corn or the young plants would all be eaten.  So for a month or so egg production stops and many of their chickens get sick.

The home we see here is more typical with walls formed by wood posts (of a tree that will not rot in the humid ground--but which has become scarce in many areas).  Between the wood uprights are tied on cross pieces of "carrizo,"  a bamboo type plant lashed on with vines from the forest, and then filled in with mud usually mixed with some straw that helps hold it together.  The roof is sugar cane thatch as I have explained--that permits the smoke from the open cooking fire to filter up through the leaves, leaving a black coating on the entire inside of the thatch.  

We have decided that we must help four families that are desperately needy as the 2nd we are seeing here.

The 3rd we are seeing here....a widow lady whose home is in critical need of repair which she is unable to do herself.

Here we see the 4th, where another widow and her two daughters live, who we see below  working together weeding a field of black beans--either their own, or for others as they are forced to do, work  doing the work usually assigned to men and boys..

Usually the women work cooking and making tortillas three times a day over an open fire  in their usually one roomed thatch hut, then down to the creek or spring to wash by hand clothes, and much more.  

Children are a crucial economic need in most Indian homes, especially so in the case of this widow (on the right)  and her two daughters..

We  already have teams of young men working on the project of helping these 4 extremely needy families, as you see above.


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Send your contributions to:
P.O. Box 1296
American Fork, UTAH  84003