On May 2, 2015 a group of community members came together in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island, WA to enjoy an evening of dance and raise funds for much needed preschools in Guatemala.
Teri, the dance organizer, had seen firsthand the need for preschools during her 2010- 2013 Peace Corps service in Guatemala where she also met Fred Zambroski, founder of Lets Be Ready program. Ever since her return, Teri had wanted to raise funds for the program. The evening was billed as “something for everyone” with dance demonstrations of Tango and belly dance, then moving into a participatory activity of East Coast Swing lesson, followed by a swing dance to live music by a band that generously donated their talents for free.
Guests commented that they appreciated that the event was for a good cause, and some had also journeyed to Guatemala. Two posters hung at the doorway which showcased photos from Lets Be Ready so that they could see the children who would benefit from their support. About 50 people attended the Dance Benefit, many adding a bit extra to the $10 admission cost. The event raised a total of $530 which exceeded the goals that Teri had set. The key lessons learned are the following: plan an event that builds a sense of local and international community; make it fun; ask for help and contributions; offer FOOD; and report the fundraising results to the attendees. A sign of success is when everyone asks, “When is the next dance?”
EDUCATIONAL CENTER SMALL BUT READYGLOBAL GIVING February 2015February began classes at different preschools.The children were very happy to start in their small schools. The teachers began routines, new experiences and inolved the parents in the various activities of their children's education, while implementing a new program to evaluate the vocabulary of our children in the project which Margarita Bejarano is responsible for. This program allows us to measure the progress of the language of our children.
We are organized in our small schools with support from principals, parents, and COCODES (communitiy oraginzations). The teachers organize their own communities involving everyone in the acheivement of ther goals. Our teachers demonstrate a vocation of service to their community. We take into account our cultural environment providing bilingual teachers for their Mayan language for interaction and communication of families and children ocialization of children within the school.
Margarita is doing language assessment with BRACKEN School Readiness Assessment THIRD EDITION which is done by showing the child the book of the assessment. On each page of the book there are pictures of which one is the correct answer. She uses a guide (which is what is on the table), where she writes the child's response).We also had a visit from Erik, a speech therapist, who helped with the language assessments program He visited Santo Domingo and San Antonio Frijolitos Xenacoj.
Teachers are using recycled materials to help children achieve their creativity, and give them have the knowledge to care our mother earth. They create environmental awareness in their communities they inhabit and instill the concepts of not throwing garbage into rivers, lakes, seas, streets, and create a healthy environment.
One teacher is using music combined with scribling with crayons, which the children enjoy..
Many teachers started the year with the Star Book The Hungry Caterpillar, using it to review the days of the week and the fruits associated with what the caterpillar ate, and each day is assigned for each fruit. They made a caterpillar with a disposable bottle, then periodically the children made balls to form his body and head of the caterpillar. With chopsticks they made its antennae, its base was the disposable bottle.
Thank you for those SMILES, AND SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION IN GUATEMALA.BLESSINGS GOD BLESS.
It's a real pleasure to greet them again, especially to wish a good start to the year, health and abundant blessings to the group of teachers of Lets Be Ready.
From January 5 to 9 they were in training at the facilities of the Common Hope Foundation in Antigua Guatemala, teachers participated Patzicía, Santo Domingo Xenacoj, San Martin Jilotepeque, Patzún, to share new ideas and experiences; but above all to learn new ways of working with children using inovative techniques and ideas and planning work in every classroom, reaching the goal that teachers have more knowledge and updated professional growth that allows them carry out effective work in the children's program. They worked in groups sharing ideas and experience: art, recycling, leadership, evaluation, vocabulary, and personalizing activities for each student.
A group working in rural areas in early stimulation shared their techniques with us. They are seeking opportunities for children who have no opportunity to attend school because of the distance. They use recorded curriculum, instructional guides, the national curriculum and creative curriculum, to impart in children the skills of fine and gross motor, language, and basic concepts of daily life. Founded by the support of Fred Zambroski and the sponsors, the program Aula Magica seeks to develop education and training of children in rural Guatemala, overcoming the challenges of faraway places by providing opportunities for the promoters to graduate from high school while working in their own communities, and be an example to drive changes in their community through education. Finding the participation of parents and children, the promoters for the program stay in their communities.Thank you for your donations that make all of this is possible.
I had only heard about this small community of fifty families, who lived fifteen minutes from Nora’s town of Santo Domingo Xenacoj. The prognosis was not good…contaminated water, open fires for cooking, and students who appeared extremely small for their age. I was braced for the worst.
We traveled the back roads by private van to Xenacoj , where we stopped to see Nora’s center. She and the younger members of her family will live there and will house donors and visitors who want to visit the nearby “Let’s Be Ready” schools, and if they choose take Spanish classes. The house was much larger than I had imagined with a great deal of light and comfortably sized rooms for guests as well as a communal great room adjoining a kitchen. At his point, it lacks windows and the water hook up. Then the Bacajols will need to furnish it.
Now we circled around the mountainous road to Los Izotes. I was excited to see what progress Lidia had made with this high needs community in the two months she had been teaching. The terrain seemed very fertile growing a large variety of flowers for export and blackberries as I was later to discover. It was hard to imagine anyone being malnourished in this verdant mountain area.
We arrived and climbed down a very steep, narrow path to a small turquoise house donated by one of the local residents. Lidia and the kids along with their mothers and one father greeted us warmly. We passed the garden, planted by the mothers, which was already growing beets, carrots, radishes, and a few vegetables I did not recognize. Large colorful signs designated each row. What a great way to learn how to read! How important to learn to grow your own variety of vegetables. Later I was to discover a Sawyer water filter and plans for a wood burning stove. Things were looking up.
As I entered the classroom Lidia was assembling the kids in a circle to begin their morning routine. All but one very small child entered in enthusiastically, naming off the students present and locating their names on the Word Wall. Attendance was followed by the weather, the calendar, and a welcoming song in which each child introduced herself to me and shook my hand. I was totally blown away at how much they had learned in such a short time. Lydia had done such an amazing job with kids who have mothers, most of whom have never attended school.
These shy but appreciative mothers provided a healthy bean sandwich and fresh banana for the snack along with a glass of atole.
After the break, the fun began with the educational materials I had brought. Lidia let the kids open the box and choose their favorite item. One 4 year- old girl was mesmerized by the books. Others were drawn to the puzzles of the alphabet, numbers, and human body. One of the youngest boys was running his fingers over the bugs on a numbers chart. Lidia was playing with an Afro puppet dressed in a red and white polka dot dress Fred and I were given in Cuba. I could see what fun she and the students could have with that.
Some of the kids were most excited about the soccer ball so we walked along a path to an open field and the students and their older siblings had a rollicking game of soccer.
Seeing these kids living in such challenging conditions, so happy and thriving, their parents involved and committed, and lead by an extraordinary teacher really made my heart sing! This garden of students is being watered and cultivated with a gentle hand that insures their growth and a promising start in life.
2014 Annual Report
Because of donor support in 2014, early childhood education was delivered to more than 300 children in 23 communities in Guatemala. Their generosity has sustained Let's Be Ready for 6 years now, and positioned us to expand in the most rural villages through the new program Magic Classroom.
Income and expense items of note.
We were short $ 3,093 due to increasing stipends by 5% each year and paying travel for teachers, while not asking for an increase in the in the basic donation amount of $1500 per teacher. Instead we have opted to ask for material donations.
I am still covering the administrative expenses @ $5,000
Some sponsors are giving partial scholarships to their teachers to go to college on the weekends.
Looking ahead to 2015, I solicited extra funds for materials and through some generous donations, it appears that there will be sufficient funds to balance the budget next year at about $50,000 with the number of teachers remaining about the same.
The Nutrition Program is fully funded for 2015, as it has been for the last 2 years, by grants from a Swiss Herrod Foundation and Feed the Dream. They get a separate accounting.
Establishment of our own Non Profit
This year we were granted nonprofit status for Let's Be Ready. Through a change in the tax law, new simplified application and reporting rules was created for small 501c3’s with donations of $50,000 or less. We are extremely grateful to Beth and Marlon Dearden of World Link Partners for supporting us during our developing years.
Innovations for 2015
We have 7 major initiatives for 2015 which will carry over into 2016 as well.
These first three:
and these four more:
It is apparent that we have some ambitious goals for 2015. We want to continue to improve Let's Be Ready in curriculum development and teacher training. We are going to expand the Magic Classroom into the more rural areas, develop more recorded programming, activities, and translations. With your continued support, we remain committed to improving early childhood education in Guatemala. We thank all donors for being part of vision and the reality,
Fred Zambroski, Founder
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