Guatemala Project 2016-17: The Numbers

This summary was submitted to Rotary International in January 2017, describing the work our club did for a project in Guatemala. Check out the video and images below to see footage of the area where this project was implemented.

Brief Project Description | In 1-2 sentences, briefly summarize your project and why it matters.

Rotaract Milwaukee raised $1,200 to build a handwashing station at a school in Tziquintze, Guatemala. The school previously did not have access to water so this will help improve sanitation and teach the students the importance of proper hygiene.

Project Justification

Impact & Sustainability

The handwashing station was designed and constructed in partnership with a Milwaukee-based Engineers Without Borders chapter and with a Guatemalan NGO called ACCMARI (La Asociación Comités Comunitarios Medio Ambiental de la Region Ixil). ACCMARI is an association of 54 villages in the Ixil Triangle region of Guatemala that provides funding for infrastructure projects within the villages. ACCMARI oversees the projects from start to finish and provides ongoing maintenance and support. The Tziquintze school has over 50 students, and having a handwashing station at the school will help prevent disease among the students and help them to learn the importance of washing their hands at an early age.

Alignment with Rotary’s Six Areas of Focus promotion of Rotary’s commitment to change lives locally and globally

The handwashing station aligns perfectly with Rotary’s Water and Sanitation focus. The Ixil Triangle was devastated by the civil war that raged in Guatemala from the 1960s to the 1990s. The war left much of the region’s water infrastructure destroyed, and villages have had to survive without water and basic sanitation for many years. In villages without water systems, women spend up to 6 hours per day collecting water for their families. Many children are forced to quit school to help with water collection. Prior to our project, the village of Tziquintze received a water system and reservoir tank, but the village school lacked water. Students were forced to use a filthy outhouse and were not able to wash their hands at school. Thus the project has a Disease Prevention and Treatment component by enabling the students to practice better hygiene at school.

Collaboration with Rotarians and Community organizations to enhance effectiveness

Rotaract provided funding for a handwashing station to be built at the same time as toilets that were funded by the Rotary Club of Milwaukee (RCM). We worked in close collaboration with RCM to ensure that our project would complement their efforts while also having a distinct Rotaract impact. We worked with the Guatemalan NGO ACCMARI to construct the handwashing station and provide ongoing maintenance. ACCMARI understands the villages’ needs, so their input is crucial. While traveling in Guatemala, we saw many examples of development projects that failed because donors did not really listen to the villagers to determine their true needs.


Many development projects in the Tziquintze region failed because the donors used a top-down approach and did not take the time to understand the needs of the village. By working with ACCMARI, we were able to learn the village needs directly from their committee. The handwashing station was constructed using local construction workers and practices, and ACCMARI will oversee ongoing maintenance.

Percentage of Rotaract club members involved in project development and implementation

Two Rotaractors traveled to Guatemala in March 2016 to meet children at the school and assist local masons in the construction of the hand-washing station. We held two fundraisers to support the donation, a rain barrel sale in May 2015 and a Guest Bartending fundraiser in February 2016. The rain barrel sale was organized by the City of Milwaukee, and Rotaract received a donation from the City for providing labor at the sale. Ten Rotaract members worked at the rain barrel sale. Most of our Rotaract club (20 members) was involved in the Guest Bartending fundraiser. The tasks involved with the fundraiser included planning and promoting the event, securing donations for raffle prizes, serving drinks at the event, and attending the event.

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