La Cumbra

La Cumbra




Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Hi All

This is my last entry in what has been a life changing experience for me. Proyecto Sanitario has been completed successfully. I have made a video of its construction for you and I hope you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed working on it.

Thanks again to all of you who donated your hard earned cash to make this happen.

I would also like to thank my co volunteer Tanja. Her hard work and dedication were amazing. Thank you Tanja. You'll notice Tanja's photo at the end of the video. She is in front of a world map, which she drew in two days. The map measures 2m x 1m.

I would also like to point out that the painting of the bathroom building will be left as a project for the students of this school. By making them apart of its construction it will hopefully teach them to use the bathrooms with respect and care.

Again, enjoy the video and I hope to see most of you at Christmas when I return home.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Its weird to think that while I was writing the title, my departure from La Cumbre only really hit home. Its been an amazing experience which words would fail completely to describe. So as always I have a little photo/video compilation for you. Enjoy.

I also want to add a special thanks to my amazing host Family. Thank you Sandra, Sara, Vivian and Paulina. I will never forget you. Id also like to thank my work mates Barrett, Ami, Robertito, Coni and Brenda. You have made my stay here very special. I leave La Cumbre behind me with a heavy heart but I will never forget what I have learned from its people and from my new friends. Adios.


Well its been a long road but the finish line is finally in sight. As you can see from the Barometer above, we have reached 4000 euro. Only 1000 to go and I am confident its going to happen. Even though I am short the amount needed I intend to continue with the project regardless, courtesy of good old mastercard! The project is to begin on the 20th and, all going well, I am expecting it to last for approx 4 to 6 weeks. As mentioned before I will be working on the project from start to finish and hope to provide a full video to you all upon completion.

I also Just want to thank you all for your patience and your generosity. Those of you who have donated have made a huge difference to the lives of the children attending the school in Tactic. Without you this project would not exist.

I still need to make the 5000 euro mark so this is my last request to you all. Please spread the word to your friends, too everyone! All they need to do is click on the donation button below the map above and give what ever little they can. Its the best cause and if you need to refresh your memory of the details just scroll down this page until you hit the Proyecto Sanitario entry and video.

Thanks again Guys

The next time you hear from me, I hope to have Proyecto Sanitario completed

Hasta Luego


Friday, July 30, 2010

Hola Todos

Im back for another update. This one is just to give you a flavor of some of the other projects im involved in at the moment. Of course being the Sephano Spielbergo I am, Iv made another video compelation for ye.

Im not one for writing too much and I think the videos show enough. If you have any suggestions or would like me to post something different, please email me at

Just to let you all know too that Im doing great. My time here to date has been amazing to say the least and I think its just the start of my adventures abroad. Keep any eye open for my next update. Im hoping to have a video of a different nature for you to watch.


2300 collected to date. I need another 2700 to get started. Thanks to all those who have donated already, you are legends. But Im worried that I wont have enough funding to proceed with the project before I come home. Its very important that I supervise this personally.

So again I appeal to you all (I never stop do I ;) Tell your friends, spread the word and lets make this happen. Again if you don't know what Proyecto Sanitario is all about, just scroll down the page and watch the video.

Thanks for reading


Thursday, July 8, 2010


Hi All
Just a quick entry to update you all on the progress of fundraising for the new bathroom facilities for the school in Tactic. As you can see from the Thermometer above we have now reached 1600 Euro. Again I have to say, I am amazed at the genorosity of some of you. I would also like to thank my good friend and cousin, Cormac O´Brien for recently organising a table quiz in Bray, Co. Wicklow at which 600 euro was raised. Thanks Frog :) and thanks to all of you who helped out on the night and attented.
I am hopeful we will reach our goal before my return to Ireland. But I think it will only be possible through more fundraising events such as the Table Quiz organised by Cormac. So, once again I am appealing to you all. If you have the time and you think its possible, please go for it. No matter how small, any event will help us reach the amount needed and change the lives of this kids for the better.
Thanks for your continued support and if you need any help with information or fundraising ideas please drop me an email.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Hey All

As the title suggests, im at the half way point of my journey. Apologies to all as it has been a while since my last entry. Hopefully this entry will make up for it!


I just want to thank all those who have donated to the project so far. There have been some very generous donations and as you can see from the donation thermometer above, we are at 530 euro. So just 4470 to go!! Its seems like alot but there are a few table quizes coming up so keep an eye on facebook for details. As for those of you who´d still like to donate personally, just click the donation button below the map of La Cumbre. If you are new to the blog and are wondering what Proyecto Sanitario is all about, just scroll down the page and watch the video.

So now I think maybe a bit about what I have been upto over the last month or so. As you can see from the map above, I am currently working in a very large area called La Cumbre. It is situated above the town of Chiantla, Heuheutenango at an approx height of 3000m! Pretty high alright.

I am currently living in Chiantla with a local family. I live with two new little twin sisters called Vivian and Paulina, their mother Sandra and her friend Sara. They are a very friendly Family who have welcomed me warmly into their home for 5 months.

My general day consists of commuting from Chiantla to work in La Cumbre at 7am. I usually take th local Bus (which is always interesting). To put it simply, the bus drivers are mad! they take risks you and I wouldnt dream of and its better to keep your head down while travelling with them. As some of you may also know, I have recently bought a scrambler and I am very very found of her. The problem with La Cumbre is its size and the various communities are scattered far apart, sometimes 2 to 3 hours by foot!. Bessy has now solved this problem, bless her :)

My work in La Cumbre is quite varied. I work with an organisation over here called "seeds of help" ( For the first few weeks I was teaching children and local communities the basics of growing crops and basic english- I have only recently started working with local families in rain water storage tank construction.

Basically, there are 26 families in an area of La Cumbre called Los Angeles!, who need tanks. "Seeds of help" provide all the materials needed for tank construction apart from the sand, which must be provided by each familiy. You´ve heard of Irish time, well its nothing compared to Guatemalan time! Everything here moves at a snails pace and I have to say it is a little frustrating sometimes. This being the case, it took longer than usual for the families to source the sand required. Once each family had the materials needed, "seeds of help" built two tanks for two of the 26 families (selected by lottery). The aim of this was to teach the families the construction method. Following the constrction of the two tanks, "seeds of help" will provide support and assistance in the construction of the remaining tanks.

I currently work with a local who is also a full time employee of "seeds of help" called Roberto. We have recently completed the construction of one of these tanks. Below is a small video detailing its construction. Hope you enjoy.

I am aslo currently helping a friend near the spanish school I studied in for the first month, raise funds needed to finish the construction of a school for approx 130 children. He is a local Guatemalan and recently visited a christrian group in the USA to try and raise more funds needed. I made a small video for him to help explain to situation, and here it is:

Well thats about it for now. Thanks for reading and again a massive thanks to all those who have donated to Proyecto Sanitario so far. And to all those who havent, for shame!!! just kidding :)

Con cuidado


Sunday, May 2, 2010


Hi All

Im back with details of the project I mentioned in one of my previous posts. As stated previously, I visited a school in the
rural community outside Tactic, North Guatemala. The school building itself is very Basic and is quite small for the attending 600 students. This being said its adequate apart from the existing Bathrooms, which are located right beside one of the larger classrooms.

Please have a look at the video below and see for your self as no words of mine can describe their condition. Its appalling! 600 boys and girls have to share what are no more than concrete pots. The waste falls directly into a small tank below and the smell is terrible. The students then have to share 3 taps situated on a wall outside the toilets. These conditions are just horrendous. The school has been given a grant in the past but the money was used for new classrooms. I find this hard to understand as proper sanitary facilities should have been first on the agenda.

Anyway, the way I see it is that we have the opportunity to greatly improve the conditions for the students of this school. Its was obvious from what I gave been told and from what Iv seen that school is the one ray of light and hope in the lives of these kids. For most of them its their only source of food as they receive one meal a day there. Afterwards, its not uncommon to see most of them (6 years up) picking up their machetes to go to work.

My proposal is simple. I have already made contacts with small contractors in Guatemala who I know are hard working, skilled and honest people. I have received two quotes for the cost of the new Bathrooms which I have designed myself (see plan on the video provided below). The lowest quote came in at approx 5000 euro. The new bathrooms are still not up to European standards for the amount of students at the school but due to space restraints and costs, they are a vast, vast improvement to what exists today.

I am hoping that with your help, we can raise the funds needed to construct the new bathrooms. I am in Guatemala for 5 months and I will personally supervise the works. You have my guarantee that unlike larger Charitable organisations, all funds raised will go directly to material coasts and construction.

I understand that times are tough for most of you at the moment but I know that if these were your children, nothing would stop you from making sure that they had the very best to ensure a bright future. Unfortunately for these kids all we can do is ensure a basic level of comfort and security in order for them to receive a beneficial education.

I have posted a donation button at the top of the page under the map of Guatemala. All donations are greatly appreciated and will be put to the best of use. I will also be contacting some of you directly with the hope of carrying out fundraising events. I have also placed a status thermometer under the donation button with the amount of funding raised to date and the amount needed. This will be updated each time I get access to the net.

Thanks a million for reading and I hope all is well back home. Ironic to think that I moved to a country with over 20 Volcano’s only for one in Iceland to erupt and ground planes in Europe :)

If you have any questions regarding castings or anything at all, you can contact me via email at mcleanjoseph

Hasta Luego


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DAY 26

Hey All

Just a quick update with a few photos. Things are going well so far. My Spanish is improving slowly and I'm now able to speak to my teacher Alex without using English (more or less!!!).

The weather over here is crazy at the moment and I think that the rainy season is starting a month early!

I visited and climbed the active Volcano Pacaya last Saturday. It was an interesting experience to say the least. There are two tours a day (6am and 2pm) from Antigua (1.5 hours by bus). I chose the 2pm tour. Bad Idea!! Going up was grand but coming down, not so grand!! Have a look at the photos below. There was no health and safety of any kind to speak of and on our decent, the heavens opened up on us. It was pitch dark and we had 3 torches between 12.

All that said it was an amazing experience but if anyone ever tells you they're going to climb Pacaya, tell them to opt for the 6am tour! A guide and a tourist were killed the day after I was there!! Scary stuff.