Pride and Ownership
All the toil and sweat that goes into a bottle school amounts to a grand investment from the community in its future. Their investment – a high level of community involvement, planning, execution and labor – means they have real ownership of the project. Communities are accountable for their project from start to end. They are inspired and driven to make it a success. Community pride and ownership is embraced and felt right from the beginning of the project and continues through to the end, where the celebration of love is powerfully felt at the inauguration of the new bottle school.
Participation & Solidarity
Bottle schools are built with 100% community effort – they provide a unique opportunity for the entire community to participate in the construction process. For example, mothers help stuff bottles to make eco-bricks while fathers contribute manual labor on the construction site by shoveling sand, mixing cement, constructing bottle walls and applying cement. The children of the community play the biggest role in collecting and stuffing bottles. Bottle schools unite communities around a common cause. All children attend the same school regardless of any religious differences or other factions between adults. Every family in the community is required to donate a certain amount of time and labor to assure the project’s success. Everybody participates in building a bottle school. The entire community has ownership because they build the bottle school with their own hands. Kids of all ages will be able to say something that no child in a developed country can say: “I built my school.”
Enabling Leadership & Fostering Empowerment
Building bottle schools fosters project design and management skills that can be implemented on future community development projects. Bottle schools provide students and community members with a sense that they have the ability to shape their future and their world, and helps them to think outside of the usual constraints of an impoverished lifestyle. Building a bottle school can give a community the confidence to choose and shape its own future.
Many communities have gone on to create new projects inspired by the bottle school. In Granados, the Mayor started a community- wide trash management program because his constituents enjoyed the clean streets. Other community leaders, like Marcos Xe in Sepalau, serve as spokespeople to teach surrounding communities about eco-brick construction and the boon of improved waste management. Masons from Los Puentecitos in El Salvador visited bottle school sites in Santa Ana and Morazán to share what they learned about building with bottles. Furthermore, the students using these new bottle classrooms will grow up with a changed consciousness for respecting the environment, and a keen eye for creative local solutions.
Boost to local economy
All materials for bottle schools are purchased from local vendors and all skilled labor is contracted to local workers. That money circulates within the community, creating ripples of impact for local business owners and vendors.