Guatemala: New houses in Santa Clara
Henkel employees have been helping the people of Santa Clara since 2008. The idea for the project came from Kirsten Sánchez Marín, who at that time was Henkel’s Administrative Director in Central America: Henkel staff work together with an independent aid organization to improve the living standards of the village’s inhabitants. Despite working hard, most people in the remote mountain village of Santa Clara La Laguna live in severe poverty.To mark the tenth anniversary of the MIT initiative in 2008, Henkel awarded the Santa Clara la Laguna project a special grant of 100,000 euros via the MIT.
The goals of the MIT project in Guatemala are
- to give the families access to clean water
- to improve the children’s schooling and health
- to teach the families about hygiene and healthcare
- to reduce the use of wood as a fuel and to improve agricultural productivity
In summer 2009, 21 Henkel employees from six countries spent a week in the village, where they worked hard alongside the local families. Within just three days, nine of the houses had white walls, robust cement floors, built-in ovens with a smoke extractor, and water filters for supplying drinking water. A total of 120 houses were renovated using the grant provided by the MIT. One outcome is that significantly fewer trees are now cut down as fuel for cooking, because the new ovens require less wood. This will gradually improve the soil in this mountainous region, and in so doing help to prevent landslides. In addition, the classrooms of the village school now have enclosed cooking facilities and water filters. The youngsters will remember the MIT team’s visit for a long time to come. “We helped the children to practice cleaning their teeth,” recounts Renata Peroni from the Henkel Sales team in Brazil. “Because the ‘lesson’ was like a quiz with plenty of joke questions and the children had the chance to win toothbrushes and balloons, we all had lots of fun.”
In 2010, 48 families participated in the “Corn Program,” which provided assistance in the form of technical equipment, fertilizers and specialist training in maize production for smallholders. The project has been running for over three years and is supported by staff from the “HELPS international” organization. And the fields around the village already bear witness to the project’s success.
In addition, Henkel employees from Marketing and Research & Development held a washing workshop in the market square. During the event, around 350 people learned how to save water and use detergents without harming the environment.