For the last 10 years, we’ve focused our work in rural, indigenous Maya communities in Guatemala where only 50% of the adult population is literate, only 25% of children reach the sixth grade and only 10% of youth go to high school. Working in partnership with these communities, we have leveraged youth development, literacy, and education as mechanisms to help them break free from a cycle of generational poverty.
Since we began our work, we have invested time in cultivating respectful relationships between our staff and local leaders, parents and teachers so that we can co-create a better future. Because our staff are locals living in or around the villages where we work, they know the customs, values, traditions and native languages of our partner communities. This core knowledge allows our Community Facilitators to be seen not as imposing outsiders, but as natural liaisons between Reading Village and the communities, youth leaders and families who have committed themselves to breaking the cycle of poverty. The trust that has been established allows us to build the solidarity and cooperation needed for youth to discover their full potential and, ultimately, to empower them to become agents of change.
Last April, when we were in Chuiquel for our first Learning Journey there our strong community partnership was clearer than ever when a handful of local leaders joined the festivities on opening day. We usually expect to have one community leader participate in such an activity, but due to our growing relationship and the excitement about the work that is going on, they all showed up. And, as you can see in the photo above, they jumped right in to participate in the ice breakers that the youth leaders had prepared for the group!
Deep and thoughtful community partnerships are integral building blocks as we work to build human capital in rural Guatemala. The network of relationships that we have fostered over the past decade - relationships that start in Guatemala and extend all the way to you - provides a foundation for our impact today and our growth tomorrow.
Thank you for your partnership in this important work!
I'm sending this note from Guatemala, where I'm spending two weeks working with staff, alumni, and youth leaders to refine our program and continue to grow our impact. During my visit I've had the joy of reconnecting with some of our very first youth leaders, the brave teens who helped launch our work so many years ago.
Rosmery was one of the six original youth leaders back in 2009 when the Leaders and Readers Program began. When I first met and interviewed her for acceptance into the program she said she wanted to become a teacher and I asked her why. She said that she wanted to help the children in her community have a better life and she saw education and literacy as the most promising ways to make that happen. To our devastation, Rosmery's mother died in the first year of the program. When I saw her just the other day - more than 7 years later - I asked her where she would be today if she didn’t have the benefit of the Reading Village scholarship at that time. No longer a reserved albeit ambitious teen, Rosmery answered with the eloquence of a young woman and community role model. She said she’d be working in the fields or married off or making tortillas, whatever she could do to make a living. She painted a picture of a life in a single room home, a dirt floor, manual labor. But instead of that being her reality, at 26 years of age Rosmery is the school teacher she dreamed of becoming; she has a fiancé she has chosen herself. She is a brilliant educator in a system that literally puts children last, and she attributes her passion and effectiveness in no small part due to the leadership training she received with Reading Village. We couldn't be more proud of the impact that our program has had on the trajectory of Rosmery's life. Nor could we be any more impressed with how she has leveraged her strengths to transform the lives of the children in her village. Rosmery is a perfect example of why investing in alumni and supporting them to remain connected to our work is our sixth building block of human capital. Their talent and contribution - both to our program as well as to their communities - remain integral to our success, every step of the way.Thank you for investing in Rosmery all those years ago, and thank you for your partnership in this important work,
When high school isn’t free, almost anything can threaten a girl’s right to an education. Take Juana for example [not her real name]. Juana’s step-father, recently reunited with his biological daughter has been convinced by her that he should support her and not Juana. 15-year-old Juana is one of the most promising students in our Leaders and Readers Program, and is now having to consider moving out of her home and living with her grandmother. In communities where only 10% of youth have the opportunity to go to high school, scholarships become vehicles of change for our youth leaders. Because education is so important to every young person in their efforts to reach their full potential, scholarships are one of our 10 critical Building Blocks for building human capacity. Your support of the Leaders and Readers Program allows Juana and all of her peers in the program to continue studying and break free from the cycle of poverty that entraps their families in rural Guatemala.Invest in the capacity of youth like Juana during this month’s Human Capital Campaign and double your impact before the month is over. Matching funds (up to a total of $50,000) are still available for donations made by 11:59 pm, today June 30th. We hope you'll help us reach more youth like Juana with a donation today!
Thank you for your partnership in this important work,Linda SmithFounder & Executive Director, Reading Village