How we started building bottle schools

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In 2009, Hug It Forward was introduced to a Peace Corps Volunteer named Laura Kutner thanks to a serendipitous phone call.

Laura told us that the community of Granados, a small town in the highlands of Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, was building a school made from plastic bottles and other inorganic trash – but they had run out of money for the project. Five Hug It Forward volunteers traveled to Granados with the funds, and spent a month helping to complete what was soon to be known as a “bottle school”.

It was an inspirational experience for us all to see the whole community come together as one to build the school: kids as young as five collecting bottles from the streets, the side of the mountain and riverbanks; mothers motivating the kids and stuffing the bottles with trash; fathers volunteering their labor at the construction site, having already worked long days in the fields.

After we witnessed the people of Granados completing that first bottle school, we were inspired to create a system for more

of these beautifully impactful schools to be built.
 
Supported by more talented and hardworking Peace Corps Volunteers, communities completed five more bottle schools in 2010, and a further eight in 2011. From mid-2011 onwards, we began to focus our energies in the municipality of San Martin Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango, bringing on a permanent local staff, and seven more bottle schools were completed in 2012.

Our vision is for communities across the world to be able build their own bottle school, wherever there is a need. The purpose of this manual is to share what we have learned about how to complete a successful bottle school project.

In May 2012, the first bottle school built using this manual was completed in Los Puentecitos in Ahuachapán, El Salvador. More bottle schools are currently in progress in Guatemala and El Salvador – please visit our web site www.hugitforward.org for updates.


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