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Jul 1, 2019

A Time of Transition For Our San Pablo Partners

Group members at a recent technical training
Group members at a recent technical training

In September, our Beekeeping partner group in San Pablo La Laguna will turn one year old. The group spent their first few months together learning basic beekeeping skills and putting their new knowledge to the test in their apiary. Since their impressive first harvest in January, the beekeepers-in-training have settled into a rhythm and will soon take on the challenges of entrepreneurship with the help of Beekeeping project technician Genaro Simalaj.

The San Pablo beekeepers have accomplished much during their first year as a collective. Because of their attentive work, the number of hives in their apiary has almost tripled since Pueblo a Pueblo made its initial donation of 10 hives last September. The group is also well-organized; its members share beekeeping responsibilities and show up consistently when it’s time to coordinate next steps. 

Genaro will lead the group’s last technical training next month. In September, at the start of the project cycle's second year, he will shift the focus of subsequent trainings to entrepreneurship. This change is coming just in time for the San Pablo beekeepers.

The collective has their product ready—the honey from their first harvest is already bottled, sealed, and labeled with their logo. They have also started building valuable relationships with a variety of potential distributors in the Lake Atitlán region and throughout Guatemala. The beekeepers have both of these key elements—now they need help linking the two.

While the group has gracefully handled beekeeping crises big and small, they are more unsure of their upcoming venture into the world of sales. Fortunately, Genaro is here to help. The most important lesson he plans to impart during his upcoming trainings in San Pablo? “The group must continue to manage its resources in a unified way,” says Genaro. “They will earn a greater profit from their product if they sell it together than if they divide up each harvest for each of the ten members to sell separately.”

Genaro hopes that the San Pablo beekeepers will soon see their product sold far and wide. He knows that it will take time, but he believes in this group. “And if things keep going well, they’ll be harvesting again in August,” he notes, “which means even more product to distribute!” Thank you for believing in the power of beekeeping to transform lives. Your support will fuel our San Pablo partners’ successful steps into the next phase of the project!

Genaro (left) addresses the group
Genaro (left) addresses the group
The group's growing apiary
The group's growing apiary
A bee hard at work in the San Pablo apiary
A bee hard at work in the San Pablo apiary

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Jul 1, 2019

Nutrition For the Whole Family

Sandy prepares for her next round of workshops
Sandy prepares for her next round of workshops

When Sandy leads nutrition trainings in schools, she often focuses on childhood nutrition: what kids need to eat to grow up healthy and strong. But she is also invested in helping students’ parents and grandparents stay healthy. That’s why the second workshop she developed for the summer 2019 project cycle focuses on nutrition tips for adults of all ages. Sandy will lead this lesson for participating students and their mothers, who will bring their new knowledge home to share with adult loved ones.

“The human body is vulnerable in different ways at different times in our lives,” Sandy explains. “We can protect our bodies and keep healthy by eating nutritious foods.” Sandy’s next workshop will provide nutrition recommendations for adults of three distinct age groups: 20-40 years old, 40-50 years old, and older than 50.

When it comes to adults under 40, Sandy says, there is something of a divide in today’s Santiago Atitlán. Some younger adults continue to do the daily physical labor that their families have done for centuries, like cutting firewood and harvesting crops. However, today’s younger adults are doing more and more sedentary work.

Sandy wants to impart that for those who do hard physical labor, it is important to provide the body with consistent energy and hydration. She recommends eating five times throughout the day and snacking on fruits—their high water content is a great way to stay hydrated! For those who spend a lot of the day sitting down, she recommends getting some exercise a few times a week and avoiding highly processed foods. “Exercise doesn’t have to be in a gym,” she says, “but even walking is good for your body, and it’s important that your children learn this healthy habit, too.”

What about middle-aged adults? When we reach our 40s, Sandy says, we need to eat plenty of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes that provide consistent energy and promote good digestive health. Middle-aged adults also need plenty of calcium to strengthen their bones and should keep on exercising and drinking plenty of water.

Older adults should steer clear of fried and processed foods to avoid large amounts of fat and cholesterol, which can cause heart problems, Sandy says. They should also continue to—you guessed it!—continue to exercise and hydrate often.

The bottom line? Sandy wants to teach the importance of learning and sustaining healthy habits from childhood through adulthood. “All of us need exercise, water, and a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and few processed foods,” she says. “There are important things to remember at each phase of life, but the most important lessons stay the same.”

This month, Sandy will lead this workshop in each of our five partner schools, where her nutrition lesson will be followed by a hands-on cooking class. The dish she plans to make with participants? Lentil burgers! The dish is both high in fiber and a big hit with eaters of all ages.

Your donation equips our Guatemalan project partners—young and old—with the tools they need to live healthier. Thank you for believing in the power of education to improve lives. Your support fuels our success!

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Jun 19, 2019

Teaming Up With Moms

A mother participates in the workshop
A mother participates in the workshop

Johanny and Sandy are the team behind the Primary Education Scholarships project. They work with families who are determined to give their children the opportunity to study in spite of considerable social and economic obstacles.

Each year, Johanny and Sandy host a series of workshops for parents of students sponsored through the project. They decided to focus this year’s sessions on a topic relevant to our partner communities: school dropout and how to prevent it.

On Wednesday, June 12, Johanny and Sandy were setting up for a workshop in Panabaj, one of the four neighborhoods of Santiago Atitlán where sponsored students live and study. As they dragged chairs into place, mothers of sponsored students arrived one after another, some with younger children in tow.

The facilitators began the session by introducing the day’s theme. “We want to hear from you,” Johanny continued. “What factors contribute to school dropout in your community?” The participants’ answers ranged from bullying at school to economic concerns to a lack of support from teachers. Sandy wrote down each answer on a large wall display.

Then, Sandy asked the mothers, “What can we as parents do about these problems? How can we make sure our children have the support they need to stay in school?” The participants had plenty of ideas, questions, and frustrations to share. One mother suggested regular meetings with the child’s teacher. Another countered that her child’s teacher has been uninterested in even talking with her. Johanny proposed, “If your child’s teacher is not helpful, try speaking with  the school principal—you have every right to request support from your child’s school.”

Sandy and Johanny also urged parents to promote gender equity in their homes. “It is important that our sons and our daughters have the same opportunities, including the opportunity to study,” Johanny told participants, “and this starts at home. Our daughters shouldn’t be the only ones helping to sweep and wash and cook—our sons can help too!” Teaching children that girls are just as smart and capable as boys will help them to succeed in school despite obstacles, she explained.

After many rounds of questions, answers, suggestions, and follow-ups, the facilitators shared a snack with the participants and the mothers set off for home once again. Johanny and Sandy packed up their materials and headed back to the office. Now that they have wrapped up their workshops in all four communities, they will interview participating mothers to see what they learned and what our team can do better next time.

Johanny feels that she gains as much from facilitating these workshops as the mothers do from participating. “It’s important that the mothers we work with feel they can trust us, and these sessions help us build rapport,” she says. “When we show that we’re listening, that we’re here to help, the mothers are more likely to reach out to us when their children are having trouble in school.” It is this dedication to individual mothers, students, and families that makes Johanny and Sandy such valuable allies. Your support of the Primary Education Scholarships project makes all of this possible: greater understanding, stronger collaboration, and smarter problem-solving that keeps kids learning, growing, and attending school!

Johanny facilitates the discussion
Johanny facilitates the discussion
Mothers of sponsored students attend the workshop
Mothers of sponsored students attend the workshop
Sandy listens to a participant's suggestion
Sandy listens to a participant's suggestion
A mother and her young daughter look on
A mother and her young daughter look on
Johanny and Sandy after the workshop
Johanny and Sandy after the workshop

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