Dr. Livingston, I presume?
category: Jims Guatemala

I have spoken on occasion of Don Livingston; he’s the guy that heads up Computers for Guatemala, a NGO that recycles old computers form the USA and send them to Guatemala, where schools and community groups can have them for the cost of shipping alone. And that cost is pretty low, since he collects entire shipping containers full and sends them via oceanic transport. He’s helped several of my Peace Corps buddies, including Mateo & Sara, and we’re working together to get computers for Pedro, my friend in town who wants to set up an internet cafĂ©.

donaldo_sm.jpgImage, then, how nice it was to finally meet the guy in person after so many emails! Here he is, having a drink with me in my house, in the flesh. He got a ride into the village from one of his people from Computers for Guatemala, and managed to find his way to our little shack all by himself. Turns out, he’s a more avid blog reader than I’d realized, and has a pretty good memory.  

Don was a Peace Corps Guatemala volunteer himself about 40 years ago, but he seemed shocked at how small our house is. I guess he felt like Devin, who visited us several months back and said that reading the blog doesn’t really prepare you for the reality of what this place is… in good ways and bad.

interview lina_sm.jpgDon is working on a project to get school supplies to needy kids in Guatemala, with a special emphasis on our area. This is commendable, since few NGOs ever get this far out in the hinterlands. Also, he is genuinely concerned about making sure the resources don’t get wasted or rerouted and sold on the black market. As part of his research, he wanted to interview kids in our village. Luckily, we know a bunch! Here he is speaking with Little Lina, who has achieved a lot in her education so far. Later, he interviewed some kids just starting school, as well as one who doesn’t go at all. His interest in education is leading to other plans as well; he’s negotiating with the leaders of Santa Eulalia (the nearby town) to build a new high school to train teachers. They’ve decide to name the school after Rafael Juarez, his in-country manager that just died a few weeks ago. I am not really sure how it happened, but I volunteered to possibly help his organization by donating some architectural services. We still have to hash out the details; it’s likely I will act as Owner’s Rep to make sure stuff gets done right and his organization gets what it pays for. The project will probably extend beyond the end of our service, though, and that is one of the complications that we still have to get worked out.

IMG_7565_sm.jpgDon also wanted to see the composting latrine we built, since he is looking into building similar ones at a sports park he’s funding in the south of Guatemala. This gave us a chance to give him the village tour; it was funny to see how much stuff he already knew about from reading the blog. I often forget the implications of putting my life out for everyone to see.

We had a great time meeting him, and hope to see him again. And remember: visiting us in person is the best way to get your face in the blog!

Posted by: jfanjoy