Have you ever wondered what it would be like to never have an education? All over the planet and in many third world countries, people are less fortunate and don’t even have the opportunity to go to school. One San Diego based non-profit is single-handedly changing the education infrastructure in these poor communities and developing countries. The Hug it Forward foundation (Humanity Unconditionally Giving it Forward) has a vision to, “blend intangible change with tangible change globally with one goal, uniting people as one. The intangible change is provided through the scientifically proven power of hugs. The tangible change is provided by empowering communities to unite by working together to towards a common goal.”
Hug it Forward utilizes the enthusiasm of humanitarian volunteers to build eco-friendly schools in Guatemala. A single “bottle school” for a community can be built for around $9,000, and 100% of all donations are spent directly on the schools. The reason they are called “bottle schools” is because the walls are built out of wasted trash bottles stuffed with inorganic trash. The bottles serve as your ordinary cinder block, and the “eco-blocks” are arranged between chicken wire and then covered by cement. According to their website, Hug it Forward’s first project in Granados, Guatemala (in October 2009) used over 5,000 plastic bottles to build two classrooms, containing 2053 pounds of trash, using 9720 pounds of cement. 297 children and youth currently attend the school, which serves a municipality of 13,860 people throughout 95.75 square miles.
Hug it Forward believes that, “this method of construction is both eco-friendly and economical, and independent structural analysis has testified to the strength and safety of the buildings.” It is also a testament to the strength of activism, and how such a great project will be able to have a direct impact on the future of a whole community. The non-profit also highlights the five main benefits of bottle schools:
- Providing much needed schools – and because “waste” plastic is being used, “upcycling” is cheaper than the usual ways of building.
- Cleaning up the community – Getting trash out of the streets, air, water and land means less contamination, healthier people and a more attractive environment for tourism.
- Environmental education – Kids in the communities where bottle schools are being built learn about the impact of non-biodegradable plastic. At the same time, people who hear about bottle school projects become educated as well.
- Community ownership – Everyone is involved, from little kids collecting trash to moms stuffing bottles to dads volunteering on the construction site.
- Mass involvement – Thousands of people are coming together to make this happen: kids, parents and surrounding villages, networks of volunteers, huggers and people raising funds in lots of different ways. A real example of the world working together as ONE people.
“Hug It Forward is run entirely by volunteers and champions the idea of giving out of pure love, without expecting anything in return.”
All photos were taken from the Hug it Forward website and Facebook. Find a whole gallery of their projects on the Hug it Forward facebook page!