We take action with Navarino!
A new project for Navarino and The World Offroad – a Global Environmental Action. First we empower a school in Guatemala to start cleaning their Atitlan lake village from trash and plastic
Starting from March 2023, we kick start with our sponsor Navarino a series of monthly environmental activities in the poorest countries of central America, which is intended to add a new dimension to our adventure.
On March 9th, 2023, the three of us met with the teenager students and volunteering teachers of Lisi School in the picturesque – but environmentally threatened – village of San Juan La Laguna, on the shores of lake Atitlan – Guatemala and as Navarino ambassadors with a simple question; how could we help you and your environment?
The volcanic lake at 1,562 meters altitude, allegedly “the most beautiful in the world” is not pollution-free and faces different environmental issues, from water contamination that provokes fish-threatening diseases, to overpopulation in the lakeside communities, lack of waste treatment / trash management and deforestation, just to mention major threats.
Dense population and a rebounding post-pandemic tourism are also a threat at lake Atitlan as anywhere else in Guatemala. Maya villages like San Juan La Laguna – where most locals speak Tz’utujil language – produces more “basura” (trash), plastic, glass and metal than it can manage. As a result, the outskirts of the village are unbearably “decorated” by entire fields of plastic bottles, cans, trash and snack bags – the daily playgrounds of numerous stray dogs looking for food. All that waste ends either in the surrounding rain forests, or at the bottom of the lake.
Thanks to the support we have from Navarino, we undertook a grass-roots activity in the village of 8,000 people, and this is how we learnt about the Lisi School that teaches secretary skills and english language to teenage girls and boys. We met early in the morning with the “estudiantes” and their teachers – who are volunteers from all over the world alternating in the three classes.
After talking to them about the importance of environmental protection we provided useful tips on how to minimize and treat trash and plastic, like they all these years living on the road. Then, all together we formed a group of 20 people, provided large plastic bags and medical gloves and called everybody to take action in the village collecting trash, plastic and metal/glass waste in groups of three.
The activity was painstaking and sweaty in the wet tropical environment but till noon the result was pretty impressive; 35 large bags were collected and ultimately taken to the trash field by a volunteering local truck. We may haven’t cleaned the entire village – we should need 10 times the effort for this – but at least we made a start.
We don’t know whether plastic, metal and glass will eventually be recycled as it was already separated by the volunteers, but at least a large group of young people were inspired for the first time to participate in such an activity, which became something like the talk of the town and also attracted two female tourists.
The day of the activity finished with a pleasant surprise for the Lisi school students, who still get educated on 60-year old typewriters. Thanks to a donation by Navarino we bought a 16” Dell laptop from the local market and gave it to the school, so that teachers and students can have a minimum of modern equipment to work with.
Next stop for Navarino and The World Offroad Global Environmental Action will be in El Salvador. Watch the videos and images from our activity in Guatemala and stay tuned!