Apply to Join
May 29, 2019

Performing New Pathways to Literacy

Students portray the seven dwarves
Students portray the seven dwarves

Rebeca was thrilled to receive an invitation to an International Book Day celebration at Patzilin Abaj Primary School earlier this month. An educator herself, she enjoys any opportunity to celebrate learning. But she was especially excited to see the students and teachers at Patzilin Abaj bring their library to life.

Two years ago, Rebeca and the rest of her Pathways to Literacy team started their work at Patzilin Abaj. They have worked with school administrators to build a library from the ground up. They have filled it with books and delivered electronic tablets loaded with educational games and literacy-building tools. They have selected and trained a librarian and led professional development workshops for teachers, introducing them to the many ways they can use the library in their classes. There's still a year left before the school begins to manage the project independently, but the faculty of Patzilin Abaj have already done a lot to integrate the library into the lives of their students.

The school’s International Book Day celebration certainly put that hard work on display. Students, teachers, and administrators worked together to perform dramatizations of two books that can be found in the school library.

The first performance was a dramatic rendition of a classic fairy tale: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. Students dressed as trees, flowers, and woodland creatures filled the school’s large outdoor multipurpose space, transforming it into the forest where Snow White escapes her evil stepmother to live with the seven dwarves. School librarian Clara Eugenia played the role of the evil queen quite convincingly!

The second play was based on the children’s book Un Elefante Buscando Amigos (“An Elephant Looks for Friends”). In the story, an elephant struggles to make friends with the other animals in the jungle, until he finds friendship in the unlikeliest of places. While the other animals complain about how big and slow he is, the ant accepts the elephant for who he is despite their differences.

The other students watched the performances attentively. One of the teachers narrated aloud into a microphone, reading his role straight from the pages of each book! A few parents had gathered to watch too, smiling and laughing at the performers’ antics. At the end of the performances, Principal Caín addressed the whole audience. “Thank you for coming to today’s event, and congratulations to all of our performers,” he said. “And most importantly: you can find both of these books in our school library, so if you liked what you saw, go and check them out today!”

By bringing these books to life through performance, the teachers of Patzilin Abaj paved a pathway to literacy for their students. The next year of their collaboration with Pueblo a Pueblo will no doubt inspire an even deeper love of reading, writing and storytelling among students at Patzilin Abaj!

Narrating the stories
Narrating the stories
Librarian Clara Eugenia plays the evil stepmother
Librarian Clara Eugenia plays the evil stepmother
Students watch the plays
Students watch the plays
Parents had plenty of fun too!
Parents had plenty of fun too!
Rebeca and Principal Cain at the event
Rebeca and Principal Cain at the event

Links:

May 23, 2019

New Toilets Means Healthy, Happy Kids at Agua Escondida Primary School

The new stalls decorated for the inauguration
The new stalls decorated for the inauguration

Tomás Pacay Mendoza is the coordinator of Pueblo a Pueblo’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene  (WASH) in Schools project. For months, Tomás and his team have been coordinating efforts between administrators at Agua Escondida Primary School, local community groups, international funders, and a construction team to build a new bathroom facility for students. On May 14, after months of planning and weeks of execution, Tomás and members of the Pueblo a Pueblo team traveled to Agua Escondida to celebrate the inauguration of the school’s new bathroom facility!

The school is attended by almost 600 students from Kindergarten through high school. For years, there have only been five working toilets in the whole school for students to use. But during recent construction, contractors tore down a bank of two unused toilets and built a new bank of stalls in their place. The girls' side of the new facility has three new toilets and a handwashing station, and the boys' side has two new toilets, a urinal, and a new handwashing station. These new facilities will double the number of working toilets at the school, creating a safer and healthier learning environment for the students of Agua Escondida—certainly a reason to celebrate!

The inauguration ceremony began in the school’s large multipurpose room. The walls were covered with posters made by students, each which depicted a different way in which students can take care of their earth and their school. Several were variations on the theme “How We Can Take Care of the New Bathrooms” and encouraged students to place trash in the trash can, sweep the stalls each day, and remember to flush!

During the ceremony, school administrators honored Tomás and Pueblo a Pueblo Administrative Director Ana Cabrera. After brief remarks from a variety of school and community leaders, the audience was treated to two different performances related to the themes of the day: environmentalism and hygiene. First, a third grade class performed a short musical parable called “The Earth has a Fever” about a planet and the humans that nearly destroy it—and then save it! Then, a group of sixth graders performed a play about the danger of pollution to our health—and the importance of keeping our homes, businesses, and streets clean.

Afterwards, the ceremony moved outside to the new bathrooms, decorated for the occasion by members of a local community group. The school’s principal invited Ana to cut the ribbon on the five new stalls and two new handwashing stations now available for students to use! Once he had unlocked the bathroom stalls, the principal encouraged the students gathered around to take a look inside.

Building these five new bathroom stalls is only the first phase of Pueblo a Pueblo’s collaboration with Agua Escondida. Next, our team will help to coordinate the demolition and reconstruction of a second bank of bathroom stalls in the school’s lower level, where Agua Escondida's youngest learners attend class. Thanks to donors like you, we were able to complete Phase One—now we need your help to carry out Phase Two! Your support fuels our success—thank you for believing in the power of proper sanitation to keep kids happy, healthy, and learning every day.

Before the new construction
Before the new construction
After: two new handwashing stations
After: two new handwashing stations
Students gather for the inauguration ceremony
Students gather for the inauguration ceremony
Tomas and Ana receive a gift from school leaders
Tomas and Ana receive a gift from school leaders
School and community partners at the new stalls
School and community partners at the new stalls

Links:

May 16, 2019

Spreading the Word

Vilma appears on the program "Hablemos de..."
Vilma appears on the program "Hablemos de..."

Vilma and Rebeca are the team behind Women’s Health Champions, Pueblo a Pueblo’s newest initiative to promote sexual and reproductive health education among women in and around Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. In anticipation of the project’s launch, they have been working with local organizations and government institutions to spread the word about the project and build relationships with potential partners.

They just wrapped up a successful collaboration with the Municipality of Santiago Atitlán, the seat of local government here in Pueblo a Pueblo’s host community. The Women’s Health Champions team members were invited to participate in an episode of “Hablemos de...” (“Let’s Talk About...”), a local television series dedicated to raising awareness of public health issues. Vilma and Rebeca were featured on an episode called “Hablemos de la Salud Sexual” (“Let’s Talk About Sexual Health”). Since this program is made by and for members of the Santiago Atitlán community, "Hablemos de..." is almost entirely in Tz'utujil, the local Mayan dialect and most residents' first language.

Rebeca kicked off the segment by introducing the topic of sexual health and the day’s special focus: puberty. Vilma then spoke about the four types of changes we go through during puberty. Puberty involves physical changes, she explained, changes to our bodies inside and out that transform us from children into adolescents. But it also brings psychological changes, like the intensification of emotions and a tendency toward anger and frustration; emotional changes, like romantic and sexual attraction to others; and social changes, like the desire to relate to the world as a young adult rather than a child.

Puberty prepares the female body to carry children, Vilma explained, but although a teenage girl’s body is ready on the inside, she still isn’t physically or mentally ready to be a mother right away. Once a girl has begun to menstruate, she can get pregnant, but her body still has growing to do—her hips need to grow wider and her body bigger and taller—before she can give birth safely. She also needs to be psychologically mature in order to handle the emotional challenges of parenthood, Vilma noted.

Vilma then spoke directly to her teenage audience. No one else has a right to your body, she said. Although your body has changed, you have the right to say no if someone wants to touch your body or asks you to do things you don’t want to do. This is an important message to promote among young people, she told the Pueblo a Pueblo communications team, because educating teens (both boys and girls) about consent can help prevent future abuse and assault.

In addition to their work on the segment, the team recorded an advertisement for the reusable cloth menstrual pads that will play a key role in Women’s Health Champions.  Vilma used this additional airtime to introduce viewers to the cloth pads’ health and environmental benefits. The product helps women practice good menstrual hygiene at the same time that it reduces the amount of waste created by disposable pads, she explained. Not only has Vilma’s advertisement been played on local television stations and shared on social media, but it can even be heard in the streets! From time to time, the municipality drives an ad-mobile around town playing Vilma’s message for all to hear.

So why reusable pads? At Pueblo a Pueblo, we believe that economic empowerment is a key step toward improving health outcomes among women. That’s why Pueblo a Pueblo is helping to incubate the social enterprise that supplies the pads: a small business made up entirely of local indigenous women from Santiago Atitlán! The economic benefits of this product will spread even further when peer educators, or “Champions”, distribute the pads to women in their communities, producing additional income for the Champions’ households and promoting good menstrual hygiene in their neighborhoods.

Vilma and Rebeca are determined to bring sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education to the women of Santiago Atitlán—and they need your help! Your donation promotes women’s health advocacy and economic empowerment here in rural Guatemala—consider a gift to Women’s Health Champions today.

 

 

A flyer advertising Vilma and Rebeca's appearance
A flyer advertising Vilma and Rebeca's appearance
Rebeca appears on "Hablemos de..."
Rebeca appears on "Hablemos de..."
Vilma discusses puberty and sexual health
Vilma discusses puberty and sexual health
Vilma advertises the reusable cloth menstrual pads
Vilma advertises the reusable cloth menstrual pads

Links:

 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.