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Feb 25, 2019

New Horizons at Tzanchaj Primary School

Rebeca with Principal Magdalena
Rebeca with Principal Magdalena

Our team is ready to start a brand new school library this year...and we need your help!

When Pathways to Literacy Project Consultant Rebeca Sosof started her search for a new partner school, she didn’t look far from Santiago Atitlán. “I want to make sure we are doing what we can to support public schools close to home,” she says. When she contacted our institutional partners at the Guatemalan Ministry of Education for recommendations, they suggested she reach out to the principal of Tzanchaj No. 2 Primary School.

Rebeca was eager to partner with Tzanchaj; Pueblo a Pueblo already has a strong working relationship with the school. Pueblo a Pueblo has collaborated with the school to establish an organic school garden, lead healthy cooking classes, carry out sanitation improvements, and support local students with scholarships.“This is an opportunity to provide students with integrated support,” Rebeca explains. “The new library will complement the effects of the other projects to give Tzanchaj students access to a high-quality education.” The project would benefit all 252 students—preschoolers to sixth graders—who attend Tzanchaj No. 2.

When Rebeca contacted the school, Principal María Magdalena Damián Tziná responded that she would be thrilled to collaborate on creating a library—the first library ever at Tzanchaj No. 2! Magdalena invited Rebeca to the school for a visit and showed her the office that they will transform into a library with Pueblo a Pueblo’s help. 

"My teachers and I are willing to work hard to build a better school for our students—even on our own time, even on a volunteer basis," she told Rebeca. "We've done it before, we're doing it now, and we'll do it again. Our biggest problem is that as much as we ask, we don't receive the funding we need from the government."

During Phase 1 of the project, Pueblo a Pueblo will provide the school with the resources it needs to build a brand-new library. Our Pathways to Literacy team will deliver a set of reading materials, carefully picked to be appropriate for the range of ages and reading levels among Tzanchaj students. From there, our team will help the school train a librarian and work with teachers to integrate the new library resources into their teaching.

But first, we need your support. “Our partnership with the school is all in place,” says Rebeca. “Now we just need funding to get started.” Your donation of $50 puts ten books on the shelf at this brand-new library. Help Pueblo a Pueblo build Pathways to Literacy at Tzanchaj No. 2 Primary School!

Tzanchaj No. 2 Primary School
Tzanchaj No. 2 Primary School
Rebeca waits to meet with Magdalena
Rebeca waits to meet with Magdalena
This office will be transformed into a library!
This office will be transformed into a library!

Links:

Feb 21, 2019

Breaking Ground at Agua Escondida!

Many school toilets do not flush and have no seats
Many school toilets do not flush and have no seats

The community of Agua Escondida is perched high on a hill overlooking Lake Atitlan in Guatemala’s western highlands. It is located away from the noise and traffic of tourists, but it is also isolated from the influx of resources and infrastructure improvements that often come with tourism. In this area, where most families earn a living as coffee and avocado farmers, 81 of the population lives in poverty.

Agua Escondida Primary School, the community’s only school, has only five functioning toilets for 590 students in Kindergarten through high school. In other words, there are approximately 162 male students per toilet and 89 female students per toilet, and many of the existing toilets do not flush well, if at all. So many students use the toilets each day that it is impossible to keep the bathrooms clean; as a result, students are left vulnerable to parasites and communicable diseases that can keep them from attending school at all.

Last year, our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools team launched a partnership with the school. This week, after months of planning and fundraising, project contractors broke ground on the first phase of sanitation improvements. They will build five new bathroom stalls and a handwashing station. This will double the number of toilets available for students to use!

This project will improve the well-being of students and the health of the broader Agua Escondida community. The World Health Organization estimates that for every US$1.00 invested in sanitation projects, there is a return of US$5.50 due to a reduction in health costs, an increase in productivity, and fewer premature deaths.

Phase 1 is only the beginning. Our WASH team and their community partners have already made plans for a second and final phase of construction at Agua Escondida. During Phase 2, contractors will build six new bathroom stalls and a handwashing station in the school’s lower level, providing sanitary learning spaces for the school’s preschool and first grade students.

We need your help to make phase 2 a reality! Consider making a gift in support of Agua Escondida students today.

Agua Escondida Primary School
Agua Escondida Primary School
This busy school is attended by 590 students!
This busy school is attended by 590 students!
Soon-to-be replaced toilets with no seats or doors
Soon-to-be replaced toilets with no seats or doors
This non-functional bathroom is used for storage
This non-functional bathroom is used for storage

Links:

Feb 14, 2019

Your Donation Supports Women

Vilma gives a Menstrual Health Ambassador training
Vilma gives a Menstrual Health Ambassador training

Things are moving into place for the launch of Women’s Health Champions. Vilma has put the finishing touches on the project manual, which she will use to train the “Champions”— peer educators who will use what they learn about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to educate and empower women in their communities. Vilma designed the curriculum specifically for this project, and as a member of the local indigenous Tz’utujil community, she created it with local cultural norms in mind.

Vilma will soon begin to select the first cohort of Champions. She and her team will choose women who can provide diverse perspectives in their peer-to-peer teaching. They will select both married and unmarried women, who will pair up to teach. Vilma is looking for women who are leaders in their communities, women who are creative, motivated, and interested in entrepreneurship. Once the cohort is selected, Vilma will be ready to bring her curriculum to life in workshops with the Champions-in-training.

We need your support to turn this project into reality. Your contribution of $10 buys one Champion’s training manual, and your contribution of $150 funds one training. We are also committed to providing each Champion with access to family planning methods so that they can translate their new knowledge of women’s health into effective self-advocacy. Your donation of $60 provides one Champion with the method of her choice for one year.

Also exciting is the ongoing development of the woman-run small business that will supply the materials needed for the Champions’ entrepreneurship activities. This social enterprise will manufacture reusable cloth menstrual pads for Champions to distribute—an opportunity for Champions to earn supplemental income while they promote menstrual health in their communities. Vilma is collaborating with the women’s health team at Aldea Maya, another community-based organization here in Santiago Atitlán, to found and support this small business through its infancy.

The enterprise already has two local women on board: Ana, who will serve as Director of Sales, and Juana María, who will serve as Director of Education. Both will also contribute to the business as seamstresses. Ana and Juana María will soon begin sewing training with a local collective of women artisans to gain the machine-sewing skills they need to produce the pads. All team members will also be trained to serve as menstrual health ambassadors in their communities in accordance with the social mission of the business. Vilma led the first training this week!

This new social enterprise needs your help to get off the ground. Like the leaders of any new business, Ana and Juana María need seed capital in order to start making, selling, and promoting their product. Their most pressing needs are sewing supplies and materials to make reusable pads.

Women’s Health Champions offers opportunities for women to build positive change in their communities as educators, innovators, and entrepreneurs—and it equips those same women to better care for their own bodies and selves. With your help, we can launch this project and bring life-changing education to women and girls who need it—consider making a contribution to Women’s Health Champions today!

Vilma meets with the team of the social enterprise
Vilma meets with the team of the social enterprise

Links:

 
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