Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children

 
$16,201
$8,299
Raised
Remaining
One of our scholarship students from Chacaya
One of our scholarship students from Chacaya

The school year is underway in Guatemala and students across the country are preparing to take their first exams of the year. While testing may cause anxiety for students and their families, evaluations and grades are important indicators for Pueblo a Pueblo staff to address the needs of scholarship students.

As part of a scholarship, students receive school supplies and gym uniforms in addition to medical care, including dental checkups and medications. Most importantly, we also offer one-on-one, tailored support and mentorship for students.

When students perform poorly on exams, their teachers help us arrange a home visit to meet with the student and his or her family. Through these visits, we can determine the causes behind a student’s poor academic performance and construct a plan with the family on how to get the student back on track.

In a country where more than 50% of indigenous students do not complete their primary education, extra support from a caring adult makes all the difference. Most students in rural communities of Guatemala are forced to leave school early because their families cannot afford school fees or they do not see the importance of completing their education.

One of our former scholarship students, Isabella, dropped out of school in the 4th grade. She was one of the youngest children in a family of 13 and it was not a surprise when she and her friends decided to abandon school. However, their teachers brought the situation to our attention and with the help of a scholarship, they quickly re-enrolled. Isabella still faced a lot of challenges and withstood pressure from friends and families urging her to leave school but four years later, Isabella is studying to become a teacher and hopes to pass on the love of learning to younger children.

When speaking to her about the scholarship program, Isabella told us that without the support from our staff, she would have left school in the 6th grade. She is so proud to have a degree and is excited by the opportunities available to her because she completed her education.  

We’re happy to provide the support that young students like Isabella need to complete their education in rural Guatemala and we hope to help many more in the future. Thanks for your ongoing support!

Students from Panabaj
Students from Panabaj
Students in Chacaya receiving school supplies
Students in Chacaya receiving school supplies

The start of a school year can be particularly stressful and expensive for many families. In Guatemala, where nearly 70% of the population lives in poverty, having pencils and scribblers for the New Year presents a common challenge. Pueblo a Pueblo aims to mitigate this problem for the neediest families by providing Primary Education Scholarships to young students. At the start of this school year, we delivered 146 backpacks full of school supplies to local children who would otherwise be unable to afford what they need to attend school.

Being a new intern for Pueblo a Pueblo, I assisted in the organization, coordination, and hard work needed to get these backpacks ready for our event. When distribution day came, excitement was high as all the students impatiently waited in line to receive materials for the new school year. However, the highlight for me was seeing the huge smiles on the students’ faces as they enthusiastically tore open their backpacks and examined their new supplies.

Not only do these backpacks get children more excited for school, but the students know that being a scholarship recipient requires their commitment to attend school regularly. In a place where only 60% of students complete the sixth grade, attendance in schools is crucial to escape the cycle of poverty that plagues most indigenous, coffee-farming communities. Through scholarship awards, families agree to prioritize education for their children. In return, Pueblo a Pueblo eliminates additional obstacles to accessing education by providing basic supplies, medical check-ups, and targeted academic support from kindergarten through sixth grade.  

Seeing the students receive their backpacks made me realize the positive impact that this project has on families in Santiago and the surrounding communities. Not only were the students full of excitement and eager to continue their schooling, but many of their mothers looked on with pride, thankful for the opportunity to see their children succeed where many don’t. I’m glad I was able to help with this event and look forward to the beginning of new school year here in Guatemala.

Students walk onto stage for 6th grade graduation
Students walk onto stage for 6th grade graduation

The school year is coming to an end and we’re excited to announce that 17 of our sponsored students will be graduating from the 6th grade! As you already know, this is no small feat. In Guatemala only 60% of students who started school in the first grade complete the 6th grade. The situation is even worse in rural, indigenous communities like Santiago Atitlan where 44% of the population remains illiterate. A variety of factors keep children from completing their education, but one of the biggest is that families often lack the money for pay for basic school supplies and uniforms.  

Take Micaela’s story, for example. Earlier this year, Micaela (pictured below) was almost certain she wouldn’t get to graduate. She’s the youngest of eight children and her parents were struggling to provide for her education. Every day to help out she would make beaded bracelets to sell to tourists on the main street in town.  

One day Micaela’s teachers at the Panabaj Primary School identified her as an ideal candidate for Pueblo a Pueblo’s support because “she’s both dedicated and responsible,” according to Johanny, our project manager. Since then, Micaela has been able to focus on her studies rather than worry about affording to stay in school. This October she's one of our 6th grade graduates and dreams to become a lawyer!

This is why we’re so thankful to all of you who donate to our Creating Educational Opportunities project. If it weren’t for you, so many students like Micaela would be unable to complete their primary school education.   

Micaela Ratzan, a sponsored student in Panabaj
Micaela Ratzan, a sponsored student in Panabaj
Scenes from ChukMuk
Scenes from ChukMuk's 6th grade graduation
Our sponsored graduates at ChukMuk Primary School
Our sponsored graduates at ChukMuk Primary School
Marta at the dental clinic
Marta at the dental clinic

Over the past months Pueblo a Pueblo held two activities for scholarship students at the Chacaya Elementary School: a dental clinic and a mid-year delivery of school supplies.

The dental clinic was scheduled for late June and all 42 scholarship students in Chacaya were invited. At the clinic, all students were provided with general checkups and free fillings, extractions, and operations, as necessary.

The delivery of school supplies took place shortly after and was intended to address any shortage of materials that students had experienced following the first six months of the school year. The provision of these supplies also relieves  economic pressures for families, which are characteristic at this time of year, when harvests wane and steady work is hard to come by.

The rest of the year will be dedicated to making sure that students continue to receive the support - both financial and otherwise – that they need to graduate in October. It’s our favorite moment of the year, watching these students walk the stage to receive their diplomas. Just a few more months!

In the meantime, we wish all of you a happy, healthy summer and we’ll keep you updated on any new developments!

Students in Chacaya with their school supplies
Students in Chacaya with their school supplies
A student in Panabaj wears his new uniform
A student in Panabaj wears his new uniform

In Guatemala, failing gym class means you have to repeat an entire grade. For those students that have no option but to participate in jeans and knock-off crocs or sandals, this can be a problem.

The way we see it, if a student can pass each of his academic classes but gets held back because he didn’t have the right clothes to exercise, then something isn’t quite right. So this past month, as a benefit of our sponsorship project, we supplied 46 students with uniforms and shoes for their physical education class.

According to Johanny, our Primary Education Scholarships Project Manager, “parents who before might have had to purchase shoes and new clothes can now use that money for food for the family.”

Plus, the appropriate gear allows students to perform to the best of their abilities, thus giving them the opportunity to compete in yearly “Olympic Games” held between different schools, municipalities, and departments in Guatemala. If a student is particularly talented at a sport, he or she can join the school team to compete against other schools across the country. For students around Santiago, this is a unique opportunity to see the world outside of their neighborhoods and communities.

We’re hoping that some of our scholarship students this year will be able to join in the Olympics. If the cost is only that of the right shoes and a uniform, we’re happy to help. 

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Organization

Project Leader

Rosemary Trent

Executive Director
Cabin John, MD Guatemala

Where is this project located?

Map of Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children