Earth Day – New Lifeline Recycle School, Guatemala (22.04.16)

Today, 22nd April, is World Earth Day. Further to the Paris Climate Summit, this allows for the opportunity to focus on global environmental issues, with a particular emphasis on how best to achieve 100% renewability.

One terrific example of this is the Long Way Home School (LWH) in Guatemala, which through our direct affiliation with New Lifeline (NLL), we are extremely proud to support.


With Nomadic Thoughts continuing to play a vital role in supporting NLL’s work – both as the charity’s UK office, as well as through direct project support in Central America – we were delighted to receive a recent report from our team on an exciting variety of local projects.

Philippa (my sister) and Ivan Bravo (our long standing local Field Manager), travelling with our partner foundation and my son Max (presently working with NLL), visited over a dozen local projects throughout the Central Highlands of Guatemala. They feel that the LWH project epitomises the very essence of World Earth Day. As these photos (all taken by Max) show, this is recycling at its best.


As a non-profit organisation LWH are constructing a primary, middle and vocational school complex from recycled materials. They started in January 2009 and aim to complete the project by the end of 2017. The first 21 students were welcomed in 2012 and the project received official approval from the Guatemalan Ministry of Education to host 91 students in the academic year starting in 2015.

While providing a rounded education for the local population, the school continues to develop its enhanced curriculum, including a wide range of environmental issues from organic gardening to environmentally friendly construction methods. Students focus on the ‘inextricable link between environmental health and physical well-being’. Coursework includes carpentry, masonry, mechanics, electrics, welding and horticulture. In addition they aim to cultivate a new generation of entrepreneurs, uniquely skilled and equipped to lead their communities with innovative solutions for the future.


New Lifeline are delighted to assist in supporting LWH’s mission to fundraise for the project, construct the school, build school staff capacity, and oversee the new curriculum’s implementation.

These images highlight the insight, ingenuity and implementation of combining recycled materials with the development of the school’s humble setting. All the children and teachers at the school live locally and walk to school.

The students are charged a monthly fee (Q10/$US1.5) and must also bring in four small water/soda bottles packed with refuse. Every staff member and teacher must also provide four refuse-filled bottles each month, before they are paid.  The bottles are packed with crisp packets and other inorganic waste, and need to be very dense in order to be used as bricks in the school construction.  An adult stands on the bottle to see it has been filled sufficiently and if the bottle does not compress under the weight, it is considered full.  LWH then punctures the bottle with holes so that the same bottle cannot be presented multiple times.


In order to change waste-management behaviour, LWH places a Q5 value on the filled bottles, so a student can bring in two extra filled bottles in lieu of the Q10 school fees per month. Families with multiple children attending school favour this method as they do not have the financial means to pay the fees.

We have found the LWH project a huge inspiration, especially when focusing on World Earth Day’s emphasis on reducing one’s footprint by stopping the use of disposable plastics and recycling waste.

Class room



Paperwork - putting plans into practise

On the paperwork – putting plans into practice


Ivan and Philippa

Ivan and Philippa – ” .. what, they recycle everything?”


Max V-P - man behind the lens

Max V-P – man behind the lens