The following is a postcard from Lydia Sorensen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Guatemala, about her recent visit to Niños de Guatemala.
Over the last four years the community in Ciudad Vieja has undergone a change. This largely agricultural community used to not place much importance on education, and thought nothing about pulling their children out of school after a few years to help work in the fields. It didn’t help that in Guatemala even the public schools cost money (uniforms, school supplies, transportation) and most families can’t afford even that (according to the World Bank 75% of Guatemalans live under the poverty line and 58% below the extreme poverty line). Today 213 children attend the Nuestro Futuro primary school, and many more are on the waiting list. By providing a truly free, high-quality education, and offering resources to the whole community, Niños de Guatemala (NDG) has been able to create a brighter future for the youngest generation.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing (Maribel, the school principal, describes how in the beginning they had trouble getting children to attend, partially because some parents were worried the school was going to kidnap their children), but this year they will have their first class of graduating sixth graders. Of the 33 families with graduating students, 27 have already expressed interest in having their child continue on to seventh grade—a huge success in a country where only about 46% of children even enroll in secondary school (let alone attend). When they do graduate (and I have faith all 33 will graduate at the end of the school year), they will have not only gained a solid primary education, they will know more about health and hygiene, have an understanding of basic finances, be better nourished, and their whole family will have received years of classes and assistance from social workers leading to less domestic violence and abuse.
As we drive down the volcano and the blue walls of the school fade into the dusty fields, it’s impossible not to think of what Guatemala would be like if more children were able to attend schools like Nuestro Futuro.
We currently employ 30 members of staff across our two schools, who ensure that our children are receiving the best possible education in a comfortable and encouraging environment. Show your support for our staff by donating here and your generosity will be matched by Global Giving, our online fundraising partner.
2 schools. 339 children. 30 staff. Niños de Guatemala. Teachers, social workers, psychologists, cooks, maintenance and directors, each and every member of our team plays a chief role in the functioning of our schools. This year we have expanded our network of staff even more, as our schools and projects grow, the demands for staff increases.
Our teachers encourage and motivate our children to realize their ambitions through education, whilst following the Guatemalan national syllabus and offering extra-curricular activities. Their role is imperative to the education of our children, what would be a school without teachers?
Our social workers work closely with our pupils and families, keeping the local community engaged at all times. Offering monthly classes, our social workers help our families learn how to deal with critical issues in society, such as alcoholism, sex abuse and domestic violence. Social education is a crucial element to a child’s upbringing and future prospects.
Our psychologists offer personalised support to our children and families, offering therapy and clinic sessions for tackling difficult situations. Without a healthy and positive attitude, our children would not be so enthusiastic to learn.
Our culinary staff work closely with nutritionists to offer our children a healthy and balanced diet, fuelling them for a day at school whilst also nourishing their bodies with the right nutrients that will help them grow into healthy, young adults. The role of our culinary team is fundamental to the physical development of our children as many of them come from malnourished backgrounds.
Our maintenance staff ensure that the schools are clean, hygienic and safe working environments for our children, an essential part of the day-to-day running of our schools.
And our directors? Academic coordinators and principals work together to make sure that everything runs smoothly, that our children are happy, that our staff are happy, and that the schools continue to advance.
Each and every member of our team is valued. Valued at approximately at 46,560 quetzales. Each month it costs Niños de Guatemala around $6000 to keep our schools equipped with top-notch staff. Each month our schools continue to flourish and this is the result of being able to provide such a motivated workforce.
If you would like to help us, please donate TODAY as GlobalGiving have pledged to match all donations up to $1000.
Share the love this (2 days before) Valentine’s Day, and be a real tweet-heart and share our pledge on twitter @NinosdeGuate. Sharing is caring.
Continuing to develop previous projects and always striving to initiate new programmes, Niños de Guatemala is looking forward to a prosperous 2014. This year is an exciting year for Nuestro Futuro as it marks the first year that we will have a sixth grade class graduate, children who have been with us since their first grade. Meanwhile, El Porvenir has welcomed third graders as the oldest year group and we look forward to seeing them graduate in 2017.
We are delighted to announce that at the end of 2013 we were able to connect each of our pupils at our first school, Nuestro Futuro, with a “padrino”. Our Padrino Program links our children with external sponsors who financially support their education whilst maintaining a relationship and updates about the child´s progress. This year, we hope to realize our goal by connecting every child across our two schools with a padrino.
The impact of the Padrino Program on a child´s school experience is invaluable: having the knowledge that somebody is actively supporting their education and taking an interest in their progress motivates them to value and enjoy their school experience. Our children love the fact that somebody is encouraging them to do well, whilst having their birthday acknowledged makes them feel incredibly special. This week was the 9th birthday of Ciriaco, and not only did his padrino send him a card and birthday present, but also provided birthday cake for him and his classmates to share. The smile on his face and his humble gratitude was a magical moment for everyone, as he declared that this was “the best birthday” ever.
We are now looking for 63 new padrinos to complete our program and support our children through their education. 50$ provides monthly, on-going sponsorship of a child, and the opportunity to communicate with them.
Along with our sponsorship program, we take great importance in promoting good nutrition in our schools, and we feed our children each day, ensuring that their bodies are being fuelled with the right nutrients to keep them healthy, active and willing to learn. This nutrition program, however, costs us just over 1500$ a month to keep our Niños de Guatemala well-nourished and hydrated.
We would like to thank all our sponsors and donors who help realize our dreams here in Guatemala. Without your help it would be impossible to support our children and our projects. Without a good education and a healthy body, it would be impossible for our children to progress from an environment where there may not be as much encouragement as we have been fortunate enough to have. We need everybody’s help and support to realize our mission and offer our children the best possible future.
The school year in Guatemala starts in January and ends in October, which corresponds with the important coffee harvest season here. Our 198 students just finished another year of school, and are currently enjoying a couple of weeks vacation time before returning to our schools in November for Summer School.
Although not mandatory in Guatemala, we believe that this extra month of schooling is crucial to our students' success each academic year. During the four weeks of Summer School, students meet their new teacher for the coming school year and get settled into their new classrooms. They receive reinforcement classes on the subjects they learned in the previous grade level and start getting a "sneak peak" at concepts they will be mastering during the upcoming school year. This month is also when our new transfer students and incoming class of preschoolers will join us and start learnign the rules and norms of NDG schools.
All said, November is a BIG month for our schools and staff. Its also a big month for expenses in our organization, since we need to purchase extra suplies for each student and classroom to allow this extra month of learning. We need to purchase Q16,400 (roughly $2100) worth of school materials this month and we need your help to make sure our students get the head start on 2014 that they desperately need.
Wednesday Oct. 23 Global Giving will be matching all donations made to our organization, which will help us purchase these materials. So, for every notebook you help us purchase, Global Giving will donate a little extra for pencils.
Please, help us raise the $2100 we need to complete these purchases and finish this year of learning on a high note!
Although the main focus of Niños de Guatemala is providing educational opportunities to impoverished and at-risk children, we think the best way to keep a child in school is to engage their parents as well. We provide a variety of programs for parents of our students, such as monthly parenting classes and self-esteem groups.
One such program harnesses the eagerness of our students' mothers to help out at the school by organizing them into volunteer shifts for our kitchen. The organization benefits because we can employ a single cook to prepare roughly 500 meals a day (breakfast and lunch). The students benefit by eating the delicious, nutritious meals and enjoy seeing their moms during the day.
The mothers benefit in a variety of ways. They learn new and affordable recipes made from local ingredients, which they can later use in their homes. They have a chance to observe their children in the school setting, and get to know their friends and teachers better. Many mothers lead very isolated lives, spending most of their time at home watching young children and completing household chores. The opportunity to get out of the house and spend some time bonding with other mothers in a safe, neutral setting builds self-confidence and strengthens the community.
When you support Niños de Guatemala, you are promoting education and community bonds for not only the 300 children in our programs but also their mothers, siblings, families, neighborhoods and communities. Thank you for your support!
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