A huge hello from sunny Guatemala!!
Our school just passed ONE YEAR open! One Year Open! Thanks To YOU!!!
We are celebrating this momentus occasion with some happy photos of our students, ranging in ages from 4 to 23 years old, in this newsletter.
Our kitchen is busy preparing and serving over 1,600 meals and snacks every month and our sign-in book, which records and tracks all students, staff, volunteers and visitors every month totalled 756 for the month of March! Amazing amazing!! At La Academia,we are hosting the following programs for sponsored students and families:
- Critical-Thinking (CT) Programs for Teens - 3-year fulltime Teacher-Training Program - English Classes - Spanish Classes - Psychology Classes - Counseling for students and family members - Homework Study / Tutoring for Teens - Classes and playtime for our junior students and siblings - Daycare for a small group of most involved families - Programs for moms and dads - Home base for our social worker/family liaison - Special events and invited speakers - Food program serving almost 1,500 meals and snacks per month - and the resident street dogs, Chispa, Muneca, and puppy Tasha!
We would like to take this opportunity to sincerly thank you again for all your help in support our work.
Carmen´s story isn´t an easy one but it turning out to have a happy ending. She was discovered as a child, along with her sister, working at a local garbage dump. Her job and that of her sister consisted of collecting plastics and cardboard. Their ‘employer’ in return would pay their mother around two dollars per day for the work of each of her children.
A local non-profit whose work was based in human trafficking, found and rescued them. From that point began a long journey that finally is taking Carmen to brilliance.
This non-profit put the children in their schools and the family in a rented home. It was in one of those schools, where we used to volunteer, that we first met Carmen in January of 2010. From this point we never separated. We always has a special place for Carmen, and supported her and her sister and the family as we could, which also included a tremendous amount of psychological support over the years for Carmen.
Then in 2013, the NGO that was supporting Carmen had to close the doors to its trafficking unit and the family lost all those benefits. It was at this point that we fully took over and supported the financial situation of the family always making sure that the kids had a proper education and a montly food basket.
As I mentioned at the beginning, it wasn´t an easy ride but, as it is turning out, well worth it! There were many issues with the girls self esteem, often much resistance from the mother who wanted the kids to work instead of getting education, some health crisis, always financial problems and having to move from home to home. But, we were behind them all the time. They both have been attending our after-school programs and now are attending at La Academia. Today, and due to the generosity of many of our support during this journey, we can say very proudly, that Carmen is studying at college to be a nurse. Our dream is that we can eventually expand our own programs, to open a health clinic integrated into our school, and hire her as our Integral Heart Family nurse!!
At the Integral Heart Foundation we hope that this successful story brings a smile to your lips and tells you what an important role you are having in bringing a brighter future to our kids through your donations. Thank you very much.
2017 is here and with it all our students are back at the school at La Academia. This year is the second that our school is open and all of the new classes are going very smoothly. We can see that the Isa’s, our senior students who are in the second year of our three-year teachers-training program are maturing and being empowered by their role as tutors. They also know that the younger students look up to them as role models and we know the Isa´s are disappointing them.
Amongst other projects for this year, we already had the visit of Bishop Joseph Catrambone and he is planning to be back to give a full talk to our Critical-Thinking students later this year. One of our goals is that the students are exposed to as many great traditions as possible, and we always prefer that this kind of talks are given by experts! Bishop Joseph, who supports many other projects in Guatemala, believes in tolerance and can see the beauty in diversity so he is very excited about giving this class. We will also be having during the month of March a training on animal love and compassion, given by a local NGO whose goal is to educate the younger generations on the importance of seeing our pets as our family and friends, and to learn that to abuse them is wrong.
Our Critical-Thinking classes are now being taught in part by the Isa´s. They are taking over these classes since we are entitling them to do so. And they are doing a wonderful job. We can say that this is the beginning of the future of our school being run only by Guatemalans, as this was our dream from the very start. We feel more and more confident in the fact that the seeds we planted in our senior students years ago for the love of wisdom are blossoming in ways that are marvelous and suprising, even to us.
And to all of our donors, we can´t thank you enough for making this beautiful garden of youth and potential possible. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you very much.