Ultimate recyling project: Building a soda bottle classroom

What happens when Peace Corps volunteers, the non-profit organization, Hug it Forward and a bevvy of school children and teachers in Guatemala recycle plastic bottles and trash? A school classroom.

The collected bottles were stuffed with trash and used to form the walls for a classroom addition at a school in Granados, a small mountain town in the Baja Verapaz region of the country. Amazing.

This video shows how the project was done. The music is a fitting addition to a project that brought the widest smiles to dozens of faces.

Imagine what might happen if similar projects happened on a massive scale world wide. There are a lot of plastic bottles on the planet.

For another version of a building project that fits into travel and activism, check out this gallery on house building with teens, college students and adults in Mexico through Amor Ministries, another non-profit that welcomes volunteers.


Good Deed Travel (Mexico here I come): Do-gooder journey with daughter in tow

In a few hours, I am embarking on the kind of do-gooder journey Rick Steves is not too fond of. I’m heading to Mexico to build houses with my daughter and a gaggle of teenagers (and adult tag-a-longs like me) who hail from a mostly affluent suburb of Columbus. I don’t hail from this neighborhood, but the trip appealed to me for a couple of reasons.

My daughter is at the age where there is a fierce interplay between popular culture, peers and parents. Before she gets much further on this journey, I figure a dose of helping others couldn’t hurt. Plus, we spend most of our days busy. It’s easy to fall into a barking mode of “What did you eat for breakfast?” “Pick up your room,” and “Get off the phone.” She is a Houdini and could disappear for hours into her room if we let her.

The opportunity for the two of us to go on a trip without the two men in our lives (husband-dad, son-brother) was one to take. Sometimes it’s hard to justify a solo trip without a darned good reason. Helping out folks by building them a house seems like a good justification to head out of the country for a little while. Sharing an experience that I’m hoping we both carry with us, particularly through the next three years before she graduates from high school, is a huge plus.

As trips go, I don’t know what to expect with this one. I haven’t thought much further than spending time with my daughter, but only have a vague idea of what this might look like. We’re packed. Like Rick Steves, I wonder if this house building endeavor is a band-aid approach to the world’s woes at best, and a way for those of us who have more than most to not feel guilty about it. We can build a house in Mexico and feel better, but not have to change much once we return. Given my life at this point, this is about what I can do. I’ll keep my eyes open, though, and see what’s what. Considering that this is spring break for most of these teens, there are some who might have chosen something less physical than wielding a hammer while trying not to smash ones thumb. They could have headed to a beach in Cancun. I’ll let you know what I think about these do-gooder ways once the house is built.