11/25/2009 04:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Building a Green School in Guatemala

With a mission "to break the cycle of poverty among youth in developing communities by creating educational opportunities, cultivating civic interaction, and encouraging healthy lifestyles," the Guatemalan nonprofit organization, Long Way Home, is amid a green construction project to build a school building for the 40,000 residents of San Juan Comalapa.

Unlike green projects in First World nations using brick and LEED-certified materials, recycling is of utmost priority. A prototype was designed last year with 250 automobile tires, 636 glass bottles, and 6,400 pounds of recycled trash. Volunteers arrive at San Juan Comalapa from around the world to lend their hand to the construction of the Tecnico Maya Vocational School, as this recently-uploaded video encapsulates:

One of the volunteers, Mark Skeith, writes of his experience in the Mayan highlands:

A 45 minute drive up into the highlands from the economic vein of the Inter-American Highway, this community, San Juan Comalapa, has felt the winds of globalization but has not yet found the sails needed to enjoy it. Without business connections to foreign companies like Castrol, Fed Ex, or even Gold's Gym, store owners have painted their logos on their storefront walls instead. The DVD stand in the central market is surrounded by people who would love to purchase movies but do not have the extra dollar to do so. Especially with people in their thirties or older, it was very easy to see an almost giddy excitement that their children and grandchildren will never have to see what they saw during the recent civil war.

That optimism is coupled though with another haunting idea that, although they are climbing out of their past, they could still slip back into it. There are Coca-Cola trucks servicing Comalapa now, but there are also guards carrying loaded shotguns. Villagers can now enjoy the crackling of fireworks at festivals without having to worry about government approval, but sometimes the bangs I heard were actually those of a gun.

We can hope that children educated in a green school may better appreciate why the environment, and not violence, is a better solution for the planet.