By Heather Radu –
At long last, the school that Dorie’s Promise and more than 25 of our volunteer mission teams helped build is nearly complete.
Located in Santa Elena, about an hour from Guatemala City, there are presently 100 children enrolled there. When the 2018 school year starts next January, more than 260 students, ages 5 to 14, are expected to attend.
FCI coordinated the project through city hall and community leaders. Construction started in April of 2016 and was finished in February.
The final touches will be installation of a retaining wall and drainpipe. Members of Bethany Lutheran Church in Connecticut have donated funds to purchase the materials.
Pablo Villagran, who recently stepped down as DP’s missions director, coordinated most of the project. This school is invaluable to the people of Santa Elena, who have been waiting for a school for more than 30 years.
In the past, residents took their children to another school across the highway. Sadly, several kids lost their lives trying to cross the busy road to attend this crowded, overpopulated school.
Sergio Mejia was the architect in charge of the design and logistics. The project became a reality because of the great financial support of Ronald Hille.
Because of limited storage space, a fluctuating number of masons, and changing weather, we decided to complete the construction in stages. We finished the foundation, walls and flooring for the first module before moving on to the second.
The steps for each module included installation of the roof, bathrooms and septic tank, doors and windows, perimeter, painting, and interior systems—lighting, electricity and plumbing.
We faced challenges along the way. There was an agreement that FCI would be the benefactor, supplying all materials and coordinating the work. Meanwhile, the municipality was to provide much of the manpower. However, on some days only one or two workers came to the site, which slowed construction. We wound up having to hire a couple workers to help for six weeks.
In addition, after work had begun, municipal leaders pressed for changes in the design. We adapted the design to fulfill their requests.
Even though most of the construction is complete, the school will require ongoing maintenance. Among the recommendations are painting the classrooms annually to avoid moisture damage to the walls, cleaning the septic tank every two years, and applying waterproofing to the roof every five years to avoid oxidation.
Needless to say, the mission teams who supplemented the ongoing construction at the school, were invaluable to this effort. This is a great success for FCI as an organization. It is also a great motivator for our ministry to keep working on behalf of people living in vulnerable areas.