in Guatemala

Santa Maria de Jesus


Santa Maria de Jesus


In Santa Maria de Jesus there is a constant undersupply of water. Most inhabitants have to make do with 45 minutes of water, every second day. Ironically the town lies on the slope of the volcano named “Agua”. The water must be pumped up from the valley, but the money to drive the pump is short.

To implement longterm help, the installation of solar cells to operate a water pump is the most suitable. Additional improvements, like the water-storage in cisterns and an equal distribution of the water to all the households, by adapting the pipesystem, are also planned.

Other measures to start a positive development are necessary. Amongst others is the organization of waste disposal, and the education of the people about it, as well as the construction of a comprehensive health center.


 I- Waste

Driving up the 400 meters difference in altitude to Santa Maria de Jesus on curvy roads gives you magnificent views down into the valley as well as of the impressive volcano “Agua”, that majestically rises above the subtropical woods. Abruptly this magical sight is disturbed, by the first  illegal rubbish dump next to the road. People tip their rubbish down the hill virtually in front of their front door, because there is no organized waste collection and disposal.

Santa Maria de Jesus Waste climate protection

Up until now, no negative consequences could be found in the cleanliness of the groundwater, but that’s only a matter of time.


In collaboration with the municipality

– Run a study, to find out if and with how much effort the old waste processing plant can be revived.

– Construct a road to get better access to the waste processing plant.

– Organize waste-separation

– Organization of a regular and economic waste collection

– Sale of separated and recyclable waste as a source of revenue

– Education of inhabitants about waste-disposal and the ruinous consequences, if it is not done correctly

– Improve consciousness of residents “You live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, don’t mess it up!”

– Clean up the illegal waste dumps with help of the people of the town, on a volunteer basis.

– Clean up the sides of roads with help of the local children, so they develop a good environmental awareness.

– Reactivation of the old waste processing plant

II- Water 

Santa Maria de Jesus Water supply
Two thirds of the population of Santa Maria have insufficient water supplies.

The households will only receive water every second day for 45 minutes. In this time they fill up a water basin called “pila”, where the water is stored. The next 48 hours this water will be used by the whole family for drinking, washing, washing clothes, cooking and cleaning.

Santa Maria de Jesus Water supply
To get extra fresh water the women fetch water from the public pila or well. They carry the water jugs home on their heads.

The doctor of the small town explained the water shortage to be a severe health hazard. Amongst others he described skin diseases, gastrointestinal problems, lice and malnutrition as effects of the lack of water.

Two existing mechanical groundwater wells called “Pozo II” and “Pozo III” as well as the spring “Chuyá” bring water to the people. In 2013 a new water pump and water system was installed at the spring called “Chicapitán”. Since then, all together one third of the population has a constant water supply. This is distributed mainly in the centre of Santa Maria de Jesus. There are some households, the water doesn’t reach at all, though the tubes are connected, so they are completely reliant on the public pila and well. Positively, the water of all the surrounding springs is checked regularly and has surprisingly good quality. Nevertheless chlorine is constantly added to the water, to be sure.


1. Conduct a study, to obtain exact numbers of the number of households with constant, intermittent and without water, to have exact numbers on which quantity of water is needed.

2. There is a spring called “Panixin” that is being wasted at the moment. The Spring belongs to Santa Maria de Jesus, but lies a few kilometers from the town on the other side of a hill, also called “Panixin”. It flows down the hill to the nearby municipality of Amatitlán, where it is not needed.

Santa Maria de Jesus Mayor

The current mayor had a study conducted on utilizing this spring, so as to supply a large amount of the inhabitants of Santa Maria, with water.

This would include

– A tank at the spring to collect the water / or a renovation of the 20 year old existing tank

– A water pump to pump the water up the hill

– A tank at the top of the hill / or the renovation of the 20 year old existing tank

– Solar panels to operate the pump.

3. Investigation of additional possibilities such as

– An improvement of the distribution system

– Installation of cisterns in private homes

– Increased utilization of existing wells

– Utilization of a further spring called “Cojol Juyu”, which lies in a similar ubication as “Panixin”.

III- Health

Santa Maria de Jesus health center
Santa Maria de Jesus has a small public health center. There is one doctor, who is present 8 hours a day. This means, in the case of an emergency outside of the doctors working hours, the inhabitants have to travel to the hospital of Antigua Guatemala, which is about half an hour away.

The health center is ubicated next to the central market, which attracts many flies and stray dogs looking for scraps of food. This obviously poses a hygiene problem.

The building is simply built, with a corrugated iron roof. It consists of 7 rooms with different functions (vaccination, pediatrics, doctors office, dental surgery…) and a waiting area.

The doctor and head nurse made it clear, that for a town of that size, the health center is much too small, with to few a health staff and equipment.

The vaccinations, paid and delivered by the state, often aren’t available, so that children only get vaccinated the first round, but don’t get the second or third shot. Other Medication, like antibiotics are also not consistently available.

Santa Maria de Jesus health center
Additionally there is a big need to educate the community in health subjects. Such as hygiene, pregnancy, birth and child vaccination.

When walking the streets of Santa Maria de Jesus one encounters many stray dogs, a number of them are aggressive and pose a threat for children and adults. Also their feces cause a hazard in the streets. The health center is responsible for the control of these dogs, but has not been able to gain control over the situation.


– Construction of a larger health center in a more hygienic surrounding

– In collaboration with the existing staff, build a new team of health professionals, to be able to offer 24 hour coverage and a variety of medical personnel, such as pediatrician, orthopedic consultation, neurologist, psychologist)

– Train staff from the community, that know and understand the cultural background of the patients.

– Conduct a survey on why inhabitants don’t vaccinate children or go for check-ups during pregnancy.

– Collaborate with inhabitants to find solutions for better attendance of vaccinations and check-ups.

– Organize educational projects to the above issues.

– Donate medicine, to ensure a constant coverage of the most important medication and vaccinations.

– Collaborate with volunteers from the US and Europe, to enhance the team.

IV- Resources:

Santa Maria de Jesus resources
Our philosophy is to help, not just by “giving”, but by using resources of the town, it’s surroundings and inhabitants. In this way no dependency develops between the town and Argos Green. Instead, the help is long-lasting and self-sustaining. The town of Santa Maria de Jesus has many resources that could be used and enhanced. The development of self-sustaining income to support the projects goals, will be implemented in close correspondence with the governing mayor, the existing health center and the locals.

Depending also on their input the following recourses could be used:

1. Agriculture
The municipals first source of income is the production of corn, black beans, coffee, tomatoes, green beans, güicoy (a delicious green vegetable), carrots, zucchini, and pumpkin, avocados, peaches, apples and mint, which is sold on the central market of the capital city, Guatemala. Recently the plantation of sweet peas has increased, as they can be exported for a good price.

2. Woven material and clothing
98% of the population are indigenous people, descendance of the Maya-Kaqchikel. Their traditional dress are skillfully woven skirts and tops in the most beautiful color combinations.

In the artisan market of Antigua, these materials have been used to make products, the tourists buy, e.g. Bags, table cloths, scarvs, bed covers

3. Sun
In the region the sun shines daily at an average of more than 6 hours. Solar energy has a huge potential for generating an environment friendly electricity by implementing roof- or ground-mounted photovoltaik as well as solar thermal systems for heat generation.

4. Volcano tourism
Nicely placed on the skirts of the volcano “Agua”, Santa Maria de Jesus is the ideal starting place to do the 2 day climb up the volcano.

Currently it is used as a starting place, yet there are no hotels to be found over the internet or the tourist information center of Antigua, where most tourists would search for hotels. Guided tours could be offered in English, by people of the town, instead of guides from Antigua.

5. Other tourist interests
Other offers aimed at tourists could be

– A small hygienic food stands, with English signs.

– A small stand with traditional materials

– Restaurant with English signs and good hygiene standards

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