Nicolás was the sole provider for his family, and Escuela Caracol has created a fund to help support them in his absence. The fund will be used to meet his family’s living expenses, the children’s education, and the completion of the house he was building for them.

Please follow the instructions below to make a contribution.

In addition, email and place "In Honor of Nicolás Sacach" in the subject line to ensure that the donation will be transferred to this fund.

You can make donations through US accounts via:
  1. Credit Card Donations online to the Atitlan Education Project through a third-party web site provided by United Charitable Programs.
  2. Checks made out to Atitlan Education Project and sent to our office in the US: Atitlán Education Project, 6514 Tucker Avenue, McLean, VA, USA 22101
Credit Card donations from outside the US can be made through our PayPal account by using

Nicolás Sacach Mendoza

October 20, 1972 - January 18, 2012

On the evening of January 18, 2012 Nicolás Sacach Mendoza (age 39), Grounds Manager and founding member of Escuela Caracol, drowned in a fishing accident in Lake Atitlán along with his two teenage nephews, Miguel Quiacaín Sancoy (age 16), and Manuel Quiacaín Sancoy (age 14). His body was found on the morning of January 19 off the shore between the lake towns of San Marcos and San Pablo; he was holding Manuel in his arms. The body of Manuel’s brother, Miguel, was found in the afternoon of January 20. All three funerals and burials were held that same afternoon and attended by hundreds. Nicolás leaves behind his wife, Rosa Quiacaín Sancoy, and his five children Víctor (age 16), Raul (age 14) Carmelina (age 12), Eumelia (age 10) and Marvin (age 5). Nicolás was preceded in death by his two infant children, Marvin Alfredo and Leticia Maribel. He is survived by his parents, his three sisters and his younger brother, Diego, who is now responsible for the care of Nicolás's family.

Nicolás was born in San Marcos on October 20, 1972 where he attended the local primary school. Around the age of 19 he was drafted into the military and completed nearly 3 years of service during the civil war. In 1995 Nicolas and Rosa were married. Upon leaving the army Nicolás worked in construction in a variety of settings in San Marcos.  In 2001 Nicolás began working on the land of Berthil Espergen as the care-taker. This land was purchased by Joshua and Courtney Wilson in 2007, and in September of that year Nicolás helped to build the first classroom of Escuela Caracol. Nicolás worked for five years as the Grounds Manager of the school. He was exceptionally skilled in a variety of fields, and the evidence of his work can be seen throughout the entire school. His work lives on through all of the flowers and fruit trees, the animals and their pens, the winding stone pathways, the stone walls and cane fencing, the playground areas, the soccer field, a spiral stone labyrinth, the construction of two classrooms including tile mosaic work and an assortment of wooden furniture, the office, two composting toilets, the kitchen, two storage bodegas, and the night watchman’s room, where he slept for the past year. He loved to create, whether with stone, earth or even watercolor paints.

Nicolás had a giant smile and a warm heart. He was known for his honesty, bravery, dependability, superhuman strength and extraordinary work ethic. Nicolás could not be stopped from working. When he was not at the school he was either working on his own land in the mountain (planting corn, beans, squash and coffee), maintaining a nursery of thousands of coffee plants which he sold, or constructing a new house for his family during the night hours.

Whenever Nicolás was not working he was fishing. He loved the lake and he loved to dive. He could be seen going out early mornings and afternoons with his two sons carrying his flippers and harpoon. Víctor and Raul would follow him in his cayuco while he dove deep to spear the fish. He loved to invite others along, and he was famous for being generous with his catch. It was not often that Nicolás went fishing at night, but he was excited to use his new diving flashlight. Sudden heavy winds made the lake dangerous, especially with two novice swimmers. We will never know exactly what happened, but the canoe appears to have flipped in an area where many nets were set.

The day of his death Nicolás participated in Escuela Caracol’s first meeting of the new year.  Nicolás did not normally speak out in meetings, but in the presence of all faculty and staff he asked that they make sure that the children protect the flowers in the garden and that they not climb too high in the trees. He also expressed that he wanted to help in any way he could, but that he needed more advance notice. All of the teachers and staff depended on Nicolás. The children at the school loved and respected him. Even though he worked non-stop, he always took time to talk with people, to listen and share his wisdom. He was as steady and firm as the rocks with which he worked, but he also had a gentle and accepting nature. Nicolás left a giant imprint in San Marcos, and it will be an immense task to fill the void created by his absence.

Escuela Caracol will hold a memorial service in honor of Nicolás on Friday, January 26 at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.


Copyright © 2011 Escuela Caracol, All rights reserved.
November 2011
Our mailing address is: | 502.5883.1609
Escuela Caracol, El Rancho, Panajachel, Sololá, Guatemala