Last week, Deerfield Rotarian Barry Gray returned to Guatemala with wife Susie for a service trip with a group of 12 District 6440 Rotary volunteers to help build structures and teach the Mayan students at  Ak' Tenamit, an indigenous community development organization that promotes long-term solutions to poverty through education, health, income generation, and cultural programs. The goal is to Educate the Girls. Reduce Poverty.
Guatemalan Mayan women are oppressed and overwhelmingly excluded from accessing educational opportunities. Many Mayan girls drop out of school by third grade and only 10% finish elementary school. Girls who leave school marry young, have large families, and face a grueling home life. It is well documented that this lack of education is a primary reason that communities remained trapped in a cycle of poverty.
The group also assembled and delivered 80 water filters to Mayan village families, whose primary need is for clean drinking water. 
This trip will mark our tenth consecutive year of Rotary service at Ak’ Tenamit! Our focus for 2017 will be site improvement, and project plans include:
  • Construction of much needed bunk beds and picnic tables to provide students with comfortable places to sleep, study, and eat.
  • Replacement of aged, torn, and missing bat screening on the dorm buildings.
  • Inspection of our prior major construction projects (library, eco-lodges, care-taker bungalow, latrine, and technical arts building) for necessary safety and maintenance repairs.
  • Planning (and possibly construction) of a new bathroom facility on the girls’ campus.
  • Collaboration with Engineers Without Borders on new solar panel installations.
  • Delivery of water filters and solar lights to local villages.