The Water for Life organization is headquartered near Spokane Washington, and our shop is located in rural NE Guatemala. We have one chance per year to send things down for our project, so the successful shipping of the container is very important to our progress. It is also a major expense item. Usually, the total for shipment and customs is about $16,000. USD
Our shipping agent is Jim Griffiths of Jimak Transportation International in Quebec Canada. Mr. Griffith sent a truck from Tacoma Washington to Jasper Oregon, with an empty container and be partially loaded, and then to Spokane on December 8, to finish loading, and then to deliver the container to the ocean shipping port in Seattle.
On the 18th of December, the container was loaded onto a large container ship, the MSC Mandraki. It was then was off loaded in Balboa Panama, on the 28th of December. From there, it was loaded on a smaller ship, the Baltic, for delivery to Puerto Quetzal on the Pacific side of Guatemala on January 10, 2012.
The container came into Puerto Quetzal on January 10 as scheduled. Berny Leonardo was at the port the next day to begin the customs process. When he inquired about importing the container under the NGO status we have obtained, he was told that the arraignments had to be made in the office of the wife of the President of Guatemala.
So Berny went back to Guatemala City and learned that the process of importing as a charity (with no duty) would take at least one month and maybe four. All that time, the container would be in the port and we would be charged storage for each day. Berny declined the option and went back to Puerto Quetzal where the customs officials began the inspection process.
We had packed the container so that the many items we had for the Ministry of Health would be most evident. Our packing strategy worked. The inspection was brief, and the valuation given our things was favorable. The entire cost of importation was about $1300. The container then went by guarded truck to our shop in NE Guatemala. It arrived on Jan 17.
Our container made it safely to our shop. There was no damage or loss to the cargo. The NGO status was probably not the determining factor in the cost of importation. The real factor seemed to be the many boxes of medical supplies and things for the Ministry of Heath and the Government hospital.
We are in need of volunteers, money, tools and drilling equipment. If you have a heart to help us bring clean water to the people in the villages of NE Guatemala, please contact us.