By: Markie Cleaveland-Yeakel
El Pinalón, Guatemala
Lighting the Way to the Future
The Village of Pinalón is located in a mountainous area, 3 kilometers off of a paved road, in the Municipality of Casillas, Departamento de Santa Rosa, Guatemala. The only way to get there is by a 4-wheel drive vehicle, walking or on a donkey or horse. Twenty families, totaling some fifty people, live in the utmost poverty. Severe stunting, caused by malnutrition, affects over 49% of the children of the area. All of the men work as day laborers, when work is available, on the nearby coffee plantations. The surrounding land is owned by these plantations, and only just over a half acre is available to the villagers to grow corn and beans for their meals. Of the fifty residents, twenty are between 0 and 16 years of age. Fifteen of them attend the local one-room school house.
Because of the rough terrain and the poverty of the area, it has not been possible to bring electricity to the village. After nightfall, the people use wood fires, kerosene lamps and candles to light their homes and for their children to study and do their homework. Given their economic circumstances, kerosene and candles are a considerable expense, and they are rapidly stripping the surrounding area of burnable firewood for cooking and lighting. Equally or even more critical, the smoke and fumes cause breathing problems and trigger asthma attacks in the children and adults.
The rough terrain has also made stringing land-lines for phones, impossible. The people of rural Guatemala depend on “pre-paid” cell phones to communicate with loved ones or to summon help when there is an emergency. In Pinalón, charging a cell phone is out of the question, so they are even more isolated and unable to seek aid when someone is ill or has an accident. The solar lamps provided by One Million Lights, not only provide light, but have a plug to charge the basic cell phones most used by the people of rural Guatemala.
I will be traveling to this area of Guatemala on April 15th, 2016 to work as Interpreter Coordinator for a medical mission that provides free medical services and medications to the poor of the state of Santa Rosa. My dream is to be able to take 2 lamps for each family of Pinalón, (one to hang for general lighting and one to allow the children to study and gain the education that is the key to helping them and their families to progress and become better able to provide for life’s necessities. I am willing to pay for extra baggage and carry the solar lamps to Pinalón, to put them in the hands of the twenty families, but I cannot afford to purchase the forty lights. Can you help Light the Way to the Future for this small town? Please Donate Today.