Westminster Students Earn Grant To Bring Water to Guatemalan School

Four Westminster students have earned a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant to bring water to a Guatemalan school in the small village of Caserio Los Guates.

Ahmed Baquai ’17 from Pakistan, Mahfoud Bouad ’18 from Western Sahara and Algeria, Juan Manzo ’17 from Guatemala, and Andrea Ramos ’19 from Mexico will spend five to six weeks in Caserio Los Guates building a rainwater catchment system that will supply the Escuela Alberto Zarco elementary school with potable water.

The project holds particular importance for Manzo — he attended this school for two years. The school has a total attendance of 500 students.

The Westminster group also plans to conduct workshops focusing on water sustainability, as well as the importance of sanitation for those in the community.

Currently, lack of potable water prevents the school from preparing government-funded school food for the students or washing dishes, and it also creates waste sanitation issues.

Mando points out that because poorer children in the school have no access to water at home for basic cleanliness and come to school hungry, students from better home environments segregate these students at school and do not associate with them. He hopes addressing the water issue will help with this ethnic segregation.

The Westminster students will work with CASSA, a nongovernmental organization from Guatemala City that builds sustainable homes powered by solar energy and supported by rainwater tanks, to construct the water system at the school. The system will be large enough to store water to provide for the school during the three-month dry season in Guatemala.

The students will also work to create partnership between the school and the Spanish Department and Spanish Club at Westminster.

Philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis launched the Davis Projects for Peace initiative on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2007 to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement their ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century. More than 100 projects are selected annually to receive $10,000 each for their projects. Westminster College student projects have been selected for funding every year for the past ten years since the initiative’s inception.

A complete list of the participating schools and projects receiving funding this year is available on the program’s web site at www.davisprojectsforpeace.org.

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