Sienna Project: Building Schools in Guatemala

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[image caption=”UUCSJ trip Sienna Project program participants in front of the school they helped to build in Guatemala. Photographer: Jack Stiefel View the entire slideshow on Flickr.“][/image]

[image caption=”Bridget Behren is passionate about the work NISGUA does to help the indigenous people of Guatemala recover from the abuses of the past. Photographer: Jenny Hall View the entire slideshow on Flickr.“][/image]

[image caption=”Trip participants listen intently to Bridget’s presentation. Photographer: Jenny Hall View the entire slideshow on Flickr.“][/image]

[image caption=”In addition to working on the school, members of the team worked on other projects in the village, such as carting adobe bricks from the field where they were drying. Photographer: Jenny Hall View the entire slideshow on Flickr.“][/image]

Travel to the beautiful country of Guatemala, delve into an exploration of human rights, and build a school with the Sienna Project! This all-encompassing adventure will enable you to see Guatemala while gaining an in-depth understanding of issues affecting the country and the local indigenous culture. You will meet with local human-rights experts and work with both your hearts and your hands to build a school for children who otherwise may not have any educational opportunities.

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Upcoming Trip
  • There are no currently scheduled Sienna Project trips.

$930 per person, not including airfare. Congregational groups of four or more are eligible for a five percent discount.

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Contact us

Our Partner

The Sienna Project builds schools in small indigenous mountain villages in the highlands of Guatemala, where a scarcity of classrooms impedes education. Offering a way to live UU values, the Sienna Project provides a platform to address poverty firsthand by helping build classrooms for Mayan children to transform their lives. Since 2007, the Sienna Project has successfully built eight schools.

Program Leaders

Martin Lavanhar is the founder and president of the Sienna Project. Retired from his own medical and electronics company, he is an elder at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, N.J. He is an end-of-life doula and has been a hospice companion for 24 years.

Derek Lavanhar is one of the founders of the Sienna Project. An expatriate who has lived in Guatemala for over 15 years, he uses his construction skills, proficiency as a translator, and understanding of Mayan culture to make Sienna Project trips run smoothly.

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Heather Vickery is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with UU congregations, State Action Networks, past UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) program participants, and regional staff in order to expand engagement in UUSC and UUCSJ’s work. As the Coordinator for Congregational Activism, she manages the workshop offerings and group visits to the UUSC/UUCSJ office and assists with communications for the Activism and Justice Education Team. Heather is an active member of the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network and a dedicated dog-mom to her rescue puppy Nova.

Heather may be contacted at and 617-301-4303