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Spokane Volunteer Touched Many Lives in Guatemala

By Jerry Monks

Spokane Volunteer Touched Many Lives in Guatemala

Most of us would probably consider it a lifetime achievement to complete a single project that significantly improved the lives of others. But Spokane native David Dodroe didn’t stop with one accomplishment. Prior to his recent passing, he used his many talents to enhance the lives of thousands of the poor in Guatemala in myriad ways.

The mountainous terrain at 7,000 to 11,000 feet became almost a second home for Dave when he began his service in the Guatemala Mission of the Diocese of Spokane in the 1980s. A quiet, humble and talented individual, Dave started as a cement worker by trade.

Dave then used his broad construction skills not only to build vital structures, but also to enhance the lives of many others who learned from him. He learned from them as well. The Quiche language is not easy to learn, but Dave could read and speak it like a native.

Here is a list of a few of Dave’s mission activities, which reveal the diversity of his talents and his devotion to the Guatemalan people:

  • Hydrostation and electricity:  Constructed dam and installed power equipment to bring electricity to the remote village of Chisibel in Guatemala.
  • Community Center construction:  Managed cement work for construction of two-story building, named the Marian Center, in the central mission area.
  • Road building/surveying:  Did surveying for construction of road through the mountains near Ixtahuacan to the coastal area.
  • Solar power installation: Installed solar power for trout hatchery and provided guidance for food for managing fish production.
  • School construction:  Built elementary school and training center in remote village of Tzamjuyub.
  • Bakery/training center:  Constructed a large complex for food production and training in the mission center of Ixtahuacan.

Any of the above could be considered a major accomplishment for someone serving in the remote mission area of Guatemala, and each project presented difficulties.

For example, the working conditions for building the school in Tzamjuyub (#5) were not quite the same as one would encounter in Spokane.The very steep road down into Tzamjuyub was not yet complete, so supplies had to be carried part of the way down. The bags of cement weighed about 94 pounds each, and the local men carried them (two bags per man) part of the way down the mountain, across a stream and up a 45-degree incline to the school site. Screening sand for the cement and mixing it by hand were also difficult. And the beams for the roof were cut (also by hand) from large trees in the Tzamjuyub area.

Dave was not a “recognized” missionary of the Diocese of Spokane. But like others who went before him, and those who serve and contribute to the Guatemala mission today, our individual efforts add up and do make a difference.

Main Photo Caption: Jerry Monks and Dave Dodroe in front of the Ixtahuacan training center, built by Dave in 2009. The sign acknowledges that the center was built by Dave and the people of Ixtahuacan.