Guatemala: Using Blogs to Support Good Works and Raise Awareness

Good deeds are beginning to show up online. Private actions become collective actions, inspiration for the digital mass, and the connection of people with common interests are all being made possible in Guatemala through the power and reach of blogs. These are some examples of blogs being used to organize collective actions to do good in Guatemala. Funds have been raised to help a singer in distress, to help build libraries, and even to use puppets as a way of educating.

The Caldo de Piedra Library Project is the amazing action by Kyle and Cassandra Passarelli, who are organizing activities as Job Wuj (rain of books), which they described it on their blog:

Caldo de Piedra is a charity that manages and stocks children's libraries. These libraries are operated by parents and the community in support of local public and private schools to help girls and boys discover that learning is part of their lives. We believe in education in its broadest sense, where books are at the heart of an array of creative and artistic projects that engage children in a love of learning.

In Guatemala there are over 15,000 public schools and 4.3 million children. However, most children attend school for only three years, and about half are in first grade (age six). Despite recent efforts to improve education, Guatemala devotes the fewest resources in Latin America towards this end (only 2.5% of GDP) while Costa Rica and Belize invest double in their children's future. Recent studies have shown that secondary school numeracy and literacy are poor. Parents often do not participate in schoolwork and stay away from the schools. The future of the educational system in Guatemala hinges on the partnering between parents, the community and their local teachers. This is where Stone Soup provides a powerful bridge.


Photo by Sarah Harper and used under a Creative Commons license

Other interesting project that has just launched is Edulibre,

El proyecto edulibre esta formado por profesionales y estudiantes voluntarios que desean ayudar a la educación del país ayudando a que niños de educación primaria tengan acceso a la tecnología.Cada uno de los miembros da parte de su tiempo libre ayudando en las diversas áreas del proyecto sin ningún fin de lucro.

Edulibre is a project by volunteers, professionals and students wishing to improve the access to technology for elementary school kids. Each of them gives their time by helping in different areas of the non- profit project.

Solidarity was also seen during a campaign for support of a Guatemalan singer who recently had an accident. Many bloggers expressed their concerns like Edgarin [es], who said:

Un artista nacional que tiene muchísimo talento al igual que muchos otros, él es Tavo Bárcenas, lastimosamente sufrió un accidente el pasado domingo 23 de marzo por lo cual él ahora más que nunca necesita del apoyo de todos nosotros, ahora es cuando verdaderamente debemos apoyar al artista nacional.

A gifted national singer, as many others, Tavo Barcenas, sadly suffered a car accident last sunday, so he really needs our support and now is when we should help the national artists

Another blogger, Surizar [es] replicated the message, as did Propositivo [es]. Finally, Peña 2 was a little more ambitious:

Me gustaría es que toda esta gente que se organiza para ayudar a Tavo Barcenas, en vez de solamente ayudarle a él, vieran un poco más allá y organizar algún movimiento para mejorar la situación que causó esta tragedia. ….. Y si hubiera sido solamente un accidente, de igual manera yo creo que un buen paso para Guatemala sería mejorar el IGGSS. Muchos países tienen salud pública que funciona bien y todos felices. Ya me comprenden? No tengo NADA en contra de Tavo Bárcenas, pero me duele que toda la vida los chapines solo nos unimos en situaciones extremas (o con Carlos Peña…) y solo para arreglar el problema existente, sin ver más allá o pensar hacia el futuro.

I would like that all the people who organized to help out Tavo Barcenas, would go a step further and organize some movement to fix the situation that caused the tragedy…. A good way to do so is to improve the social security and health care system. Several countries have public health that works and all the people are happy. I don't have anything against Tavo Barcenas, but it hurts to realize that we Guatemalans only work together in extreme situations (or with Calros Peña..) (Latin American Idol winner) and only to solve an existing problem without looking beyond or thinking about the future.

Other bloggers are also promoting a project to help Guatemalan families in extreme poverty:

Quiero iniciar un proyecto de cultivo autosostenible con este pequeño grupo de familias ( 7 u 8 ) que les permita tener un mejor nivel de vida a ellos y a su familia. Y hago la invitación acá para todos aquellos que quieran formar parte de él. Empezaremos viajando al lugar un fin de semana, el 26 de Abril a repartir víveres entre estas familias y algunas más que podamos encontrar, para poder evaluar su situación y necesidades más básicas, conversar con ellos, ver que estén interesados en un proyecto de cultivos autosostenibles.

I would like to start a project of sustainable development using crops with a small group of families (7 or 8) to allow them to havea better quality of life. And I will like to invite those interested to join. We will visit the place on some weekend to give the families some goods and to evaluate the situation and the priorities according to their needs, talk to them, and evaluate if they are interested in the project.

But sometimes good intentions are not enough, when the number of problems and causes far outnumber one's ability to help. Others choose to address and mobilize around issues that may end in violence. Mi Mundo blogger James Rodriguez wrote an article on the murder of a leader of their community by forces of the State, Mario Caal Bolom. He was 29 years old and belonged to the Educational Commission of the Community Committee for Development. Rodriguez hopes to raise awareness about the reality of the situation.

We are a peasant group which did not organize itself yesterday. Hence, we deeply feel the spilling of blood of our friend and neighbor. We hope the State of Guatemala assumes its responsibility. Our brother Mario left a family; he left children behind; he left a number of responsibilities. Who will look after them now? What will his children do now? What about his wife? Then they added “Here, we are condemned. We find ourselves in an alley without exit. There are no opportunities. On the contrary, opportunities are taken away from us on a daily basis. Oppression continues everyday. In which security force are we to trust if the Police are the same ones who kill us? Only in the time of military dictatorships did things like this occur, like in 1982. Hence, it is very difficult to remember and accept… We are genuinely worried about our welfare and safety. I believe history will judge. Let justice punish. Allow the truth to condemn.

Many of these causes, projects, and issues never make the newspaper, and so blogs are helping to increase awareness and gather support for these attempts to help Guatemala.


  • Renata, I am glad you’re covering the Caldo de Piedra Library Project. I have done a mini series on the Caldo de Piedra Library with more photos and background information which you can find at;

  • […] through the archives of the excellent Global Voices citizen journalism website, I saw this post by Renata Avila. Renata describes a pair of projects underway in Guatemala — one developing […]

  • There are many dentists in the US that collectively hold fundraisers to assist Guatemalan Children with Dental Needs and education. If anyone is interested in supporting our local chapter, here in Toledo, Ohio, Please contact me via email. We are looking for Silent Auction items, primarily,,function is set for 8/23/08 and I’m hoping to raise $10,000. It certainly is not an easy task soliciting local donations for in international cause!

  • wayne skogman

    We have a small project planned for Guatemala. We have a 40 foot insulated container (reefer unit). Our plan is to make a utility building that can be used for a school or community building. It has stainless steel interior and we will install windows and a door when it arrives. We are comming to Guatemala in early Feb to try and find a village that needs such a building and would work with us to make the site. If we can meet the village leaders, we would look at their needs and then fill the container with these things (shoes, cloths cooking items etc) the plan is to deliver the container(with some help to clear customs) in the spring of 2010. If anyone knows of a village that need all of this let us know. We are not looking for money as this project will be our contribution with the goal of doing this every year. We are from the Calgary Alberta Canada area. Thanks

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