April Update

The start of La Choza Chula

Former Director Julia Harriman relates her first experiences in El Paredón before the formation of La Choza Chula

April has been a creative, productive month full of lovely visitors and lots of activity.

1. We have started teaching artesanias to women in the village on Friday afternoons. Here they are making earrings with Frances.

2. We announced the winners of our drawing competition – of the plants and fruits of El Paredon, animals, surfers and landscapes.

First prize winners received an acrylic paint set, awarded by my friend Helen from London. The exhibition was held in the Health Centre and received loads of positive feedback.

3. The most enthusiastic and talented young artists are collaborating with us on painting the lampposts along the main road.

Each post will have a positive environmental message and brightly coloured paintings by localkids who come to La Choza Chula. This project was dreamed of by co-founder Carla, and we are happy to make it a reality so she can see it when she comes back to visit us! The local environmental agency, CONAP, helped us decide on the key messages, with the most pressing issues facing El Paredon, such as the need to conserve at least 20% turtle eggs and keeping the canal clean from fish guts.

Our first post, above and below, will read‘ We don’t throw litter’


4. On a short trip to Antigua with Helen, we met a great girl Kathryn, who is an emergency nurse in Portland, US. She loved the sound of El Paredon and asked how she could share her skills in the community. And so it was that she came and gave first aid training to local surfers and hotel staff, especially around resuscitating people who drown or who are bleeding after surfing injuries.

She also asked me to get a list of medications that the local health centre desperately needs and she arrived with lots of new supplies, including antibiotic tablets, cough medicines and parasite creams. The local nurse was delighted. Thanks Kathryn!

5. After a superb year in its current location, we are moving La Choza Chula to Julia’s new house. This will save on rent and the workshops will be held in the front porch area which seems to create a calmer environment for the kids to work. Larry Persic and colleagues have kindly fundraised in order to pay for a shed to store all the equipment and materials. Thanks guys!!

6. Another project needing funding in the community was the build of a bathroom next to the young kids’ classroom in the school. Currently, the teacher has to take a child 100m to the nearest facilities, leaving the other children without a teacher. This small development will drastically help the teachers and kids. Thanks again to our friends in Illinois for their generous contribution towards this project.

7. I got an invite to work in the canal with zoology students from Guatemala City, monitoring the sea turtles who feed there. It was a fascinating morning, seeing the turtles get measured, weighed and ultra-scanned to check their ovaries.

measuring a sea turtle

8. Volunteer Joe arrived, a trained illustrator, delivered some painting classes to the kids