Guatemala Project Receives Grant from the Diocese of Helena

Friday, August 26, 2016

To help continue the important work being done by Carroll College’s Engineers Without Borders in Guatemala, the Foundation for the Diocese of Helena recently awarded CC-EWB a grant in the amount of $2,000. This grant funding will be used for the continuation of the seismic retrofit wall construction at the Instituto La Asuncion school located in Santo Tomas La Union, Guatemala.  

The Guatemala team has been active in designing and implementing retrofit structural walls (put to U.S. standard construction practices) to existing walls in one of the buildings at the La Asuncion school, inspired by the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and concern for the 400 junior high to high school-age students and the faculty who attend there. Professional mentors from Morrison Maierle – Kurt Keith and Michael Brennan – have been extremely involved with the design and implementation process side-by-side with Carroll students. Furthermore, CC-EWB has been successful in identifying an in-country professional engineer, David Ruiz, who has been trained by CC-EWB’s professional mentors to supervise the construction of additional walls with local laborers without CC-EWB having to be there. “This was a first for the whole EWB program but when the Carroll team proposed it in 2014, EWB agreed to the arrangement because they trusted Carroll due to our reputation,” said Dr. Willis Weight, professor of engineering and faculty advisor for the Carroll College EWB Student Chapter.

The first walls were put into place in May 2012 and since then, because of the additional help of the in-country engineer, CC-EWB has been able to implement four walls per year. Being limited by time and sources of funding, the Diocese of Helena $2,000 grant is of great assistance as it will help fund the material costs of 1/2 of one wall. “We still have several walls to construct and it is only a matter of time before another significant earthquake hits the area. Our hope is that this building can be a safe haven for the local communities as a gathering place if and when one does arrive,” said Weight.

“The opportunity of Carroll students working side-by-side with local Guatemalan workers and learning about how to safely implement construction practices provides an extremely rich, life-changing experience that carries with them forever,” continued Weight.

In addition to Guatemala, CC-EWB currently also has projects at the Santa Maria del Mexicana Orphanage near Colon, Mexico, the Marian Home for the Elderly in Castries, St. Lucia and the Kawango Village in Uganda.

To learn more about the Foundation, its grants program and endowments, please call the parish office or Jeanne Saarinen at the Foundation, 1-800-584-8914 ext. 36,,