Calling for Travelers to Guatemala

The Rotary Club of Milwaukee is planning two trips to the Guatemalan Highlands to visit past, current and future Rotary sponsored  infrastructure projects.  The Rotary Club has been working with Mayan communities in the Guatemala Highlands for over a decade.  We have invested in 15 projects ranging in size from $10,000 to $200,000. We have built and improved water systems, constructed schools and pedestrian bridges and supported hygiene and agrarian training.  
March 2nd to March 9th Associate Dean of Marquette's School of Engineering Mark Federle, a fellow Rotarian and advisor to Marquette's chapter of Engineers Without Borders, will lead this trip.

March 10th to March 17th  Mike Paddock, fellow Rotarian, United Nations site recovery expert, Guatemalan advisor, author and more, will lead the second trip.


There are ten slots available on each trip for Rotary members from Wisconsin clubs who have donated funds to recent projects, as well as Milwaukee Rotary Club members. (Participants must be fully vaccinated and boosted for Covid 19.) More than 30 Rotarians have participated in past trips and all have been enriched by the experience.

The itinerary is still in development, but on a typical trip we will:

  • Experience the beauty of the people and the country of Guatemala

  • Stop at 4 to 6 other project sites and meet with community members

  • Celebrate the start of a recent project with our community partners

  • Celebrate the start of a recent project with our community partners

  • Explore new project opportunities

  • Enjoy a meal with one or more local elected officials

The cost of the trip is estimated at $2,500. This will cover trip expenses including airfare, lodging, food, in-country transportation and medical evaluation insurance. It also covers a $250 charitable donation to our project partners.

The success of our projects in Guatemala rests on five components that come together when members of our club embark on an annual trip to the Highlands.  These trips are a means of solidifying and honoring our partnerships. 
  • Strong NGO Partner: Engineers without Borders (EWB) has a strong presence in the Highlands of Guatemala; a member of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee is actively engaged with EWB in Guatemala; and several local EWB college chapters choose to work in the area.

  • Strong Rotary Club Partner: We partner with the Vista Hermosa Rotary from Guatemala City which has a strong track record of successful and sustainable projects.

  • Strong Community Relationships: The elected and community-based leaders have grown to trust us.

  • Diverse Funding: Our larger projects are funded with contributions of a dozen or so Rotary Clubs, multiple Districts, Rotary International’s World Fund and key private donors.

  • Regular Communication: Every Wednesday morning we have a one-hour project management call with our partners on the ground in Guatemala.

These trips foster opportunities to build and celebrate essential relationships with Guatemalan Rotarians and community members. The Mayan villagers impacted by the projects greatly appreciate that we care enough to show up for them. And, we do our best to ensure the projects are needed and wanted by the community, not by outsiders, which is essential for the long-term sustainability of the work. We bear witness to the integrity of the work allowing us to assure the funders that the money was used as intended ---which also supports our future efforts to fund Global Grants in partnership with other Rotary Clubs.

It is critical that we have strong and trusting relationships with the Rotarians in Guatemala—relationships that are best built face to face. Implementing a sustainable project is not for the faint of heart. The upfront work is formidable. We count on Guatemalan Rotarians to monitor on-going progress, pay bills and work implement monitoring and evaluation practices.

Fellow travelers find the experience of working alongside students and community members to be a very rewarding part of the trip, however, it is probably the least valuable of the contributions that we make to the community. The Guatemalan Highlands have plenty of able-bodied men and women to work. They need the funding and the expertise that we can provide.

That said, the projects undertaken by the EWB teams are very valuable learning experiences for the students. The students raise money, design projects and work alongside the community at various stages of construction. For many, these are life changing experiences.

To secure your spot,
complete the form below and pay the $500 deposit by December 15, 2023

Bridging Barriers: How a Community Changed Its Future with Help From Engineers Without Borders

A book by Rotarian Michael Paddock, PE, PS

Gavina is frustrated. As a midwife with 40 years of experience, she knows what is needed to slash the infant and maternal mortality rates that are ravaging her Guatemalan Highlands community. Only two things stand in her way: a lack of clean water and a raging river nicknamed “The Assassin,” which blocks access to the hospital. Under the mentorship of Mike Shawcross, a crusty old Brit with four decades of international development experience, the Marquette University Engineers Without Borders USA team works with the community to build a water project and construct a bridge that defeats The Assassin. Through engaging personal stories, Bridging Barriers tells of the trials, tribulations and successes of the engineers and community members who gave new hope to La Garrucha.