UPDATE: Karen is keeping a blog of her Guatemale trip: www.guatemalaboundwithkaren.blogspot.com

I am only one,
But still I am one,
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the
Something that I can do.
~ Edward Everett Hale

(images: Guatemalan preschool set up by Oneness; a Mayan weaver)

For one month — from February 2 to March 2 — a bit of the spirit of CREWC will be in Guatemala. Although our marketing manager Karen Secord’s “holiday” won’t involve lazy beachfront days or unlimited cocktails, it will most definitely include community development, relationship building and education.

Karen will be working with other Canadian volunteers on three projects — The Guatemala Stove Project www.guatemalastoveproject.org, Safe Passages www.safepassages.org, and Oneness www.oneness.ca.  She’ll  will be spending the first 2 weeks building cook stoves for rural families in the Western Highlands (she’s already had a stovebuilding masonry course in Perth). The remainder of the trip will be spent at the Guatemala City dump helping out with Oneness and Safe Passages, organizations who work to make education a reality for preschoolers, school age children and adults.

She also has a favour to ask: “We were told that if possible it is helpful to bring a second suitcase with the following items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, pencils, crayons, vitamins, dollar store eye glasses, math sets, hair bands/elastics, stickers. Check out the websites. If you are interested in donating any of the above items I will be happy to distribute them at the schools and to the families we will be working with.”

Karen will spend a few days exploring Antigua upon arrival and before departure and hopes to keep a travel blog of her experience.

About Guatemala

The Republic of Guatemala (meaning “land of trees” in the Maya-Toltec language) is located in Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea on one side, between Honduras and Belize and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico on the other. It covers 108,889 square kilometers or 42,042 square miles (Ontario is nearly 10 times the size), and in mid-2007 had a population of approximately 13,400,000, over a million more people than Ontario houses. There are three active volcanoes in Guatemala ~ Pacaya, Santiaguito and Fuego. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the country’s main products for export.

Established as a colonial city in 1543, Antigua was the seat of the Spanish Colonial government for the Kingdom of Guatemala, which spanned from present-day Southern Mexico to Panama.  Over time it became the most important city in Central America, adorned with monasteries, churches and other monuments built in the Spanish Colonial architectural style.  By 1773, the city could boast of over 30 churches, 18 convents and monasteries, 15 hermitages, 10 chapels, the University of San Carlos and five hospitals.  Over the centuries the city was hit by many earthquakes and then carefully rebuilt each time to restore the beautiful colonial structures to their original glory.  In 1979, Antigua UNESCO declared Antigua to be a World Cultural Heritage site.

Most Guatemalans live in the Highlands, and most of the coffee and corn growing farmland is there. The majority of Mayan people live in crowded communities in the Western Highlands (you can read more about the nation at here at Wikipedia or lonely planet.com).