25 Mar Pacanac
The community of Pacanac is in the department of Totonicapan, within the municipality of San Cristobal. In Quich’e, which is the widely spoken dialect in this region, Pacanac means ‘in the shade of a tree’. ‘Pa’ meaning under and ‘canac’ meaning the leaf to make tamalitos. This community sits at an altitude of 8500 feet above sea level making it a fairly cool climate where temperatures can dip below freezing in the winter months. Pacanac has a dying tradition of making clay pots still used for traditional cooking. Mostly men go around the town to secret hiding places that have been passed down for generations to get the special clay for the pottery, and they make plates, kettles, pots, etc. for cooking.
With 309 students, overcrowding is a large problem for this community, and they have already had to place two grades in the community salon/meeting hall to accommodate their growing needs. Previously, the school in Pacanac had completed a project with eco bricks, making a fence around a section of classrooms.
They were eager about the opportunity to build their new classrooms with this ‘innovative method’, and the community collected the 7000 required bottles in just 2 months- proving their enthusiasm for the project. Leading the enthusiasm is the Parent Teacher Association, which is directed solely by women- a very rare occurrence in this patriarchal dominated culture. It is unusual in indigenous communities that women have leadership roles and having them work together building a bottle school is empowering other women within the community to take additional leadership positions.
Population (approximately): 5,250
Bottle School: 56