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May 1, 2012

For the love of books!

 

The library that was just opened up in our new location in the ChukMuk School has come leaps and bounds in the last month thanks to a lot of work from the Library Coordinator, Johanny, and Librarian, Lidia, along with the Program Manager, Montse. The shelves are slowly but steadily being filled with more stories and textbooks, the walls are decorated with bright colors to warm up the cinderblock classroom, and the literacy activities are in full swing. One of the teachers, Gaspar Sapalú, mentioned “The kids love to go to the library activities, their only complaint is they wish they could go everyday!”

 

Even when the kids don’t have a scheduled library time that day, the books come to their classroom with “traveling suitcases” that contain materials for teachers to keep up their own literacy activities. The kids are also taking full advantage of our free hour each day where they often practice reading aloud in Spanish. Most of their parents speak only the local Tzu’tujil language, so school is often the only time for practicing their Spanish that will no doubt open opportunities for them in the future.

 

This month we also organized a school-wide event that got everyone reading! To celebrate the Internacional Día Del Libro, we had each teacher read a story to their class, and the students got to design their own bookmarks. At the end of the week, seven winners were chosen and given prizes based on their understanding and creative depiction of the story. Encouraging kids to use their imagination to make a story come to life not only helps stimulate their minds, but also fosters a love of reading!

Apr 29, 2012

It's Never Too Late to Learn!

This month the Maternal Child Health Program monthly educational seminar focused on reproductive anatomy and birth spacing and introduced family planning methods. Interestingly enough, the local language does not have words for many of the reproductive organs, so our health educator used a mixture of Spanish and Tz’utujil. The members of the group labeled the female and male reproductive parts before and after the lesson and we saw a huge improvement in what they know about their bodies. Discussion related to the importance of birth spacing gave participants the opportunity to reflect on the benefits of having fewer children. Not only was the health of the mother and existing children discussed, but also economic stability of the entire family.

 

Family planning continues to be a very important topic here in Guatemala. The average number of births per woman in this country is 4.4, however, in areas such as Santiago Atitlan, it is still common for women to have eight or more children. Part of the reason the birth rate is higher in rural areas of Guatemala is the lack of education and availability of family planning methods. Luckily, in Santiago our partnering medical clinic provides nearly every form of birth control. However, education about the benefits of family planning and how to use these methods is still lacking among the people in the community. For this reason, Pueblo a Pueblo is focusing the next 4 sessions of our educational seminar on how a woman can space or limit births using natural, hormonal, barrier or permanent methods.

Apr 19, 2012

Moving forward in Panabaj

 

Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, parents and teachers of Panabaj Primary School are busily working on repairing the facilities so that their children can learn in a safe space.

Work supported to date includes the construction of 2 containment walls to protect the school from future mudslides, a gate for the main entrance, a new stove for the kitchen, and a storage area for school supplies. We also repaired classroom doors that were salvageable. In the coming weeks we will be installing doors and windows for the remaining classrooms, putting the final touches on the containment walls, and installing electricity so that the classrooms will have light.

Next we are planning to paint both inside and outside the classrooms with the help of a group of volunteers from the Cole Family Foundation.

Parents and teachers are thrilled to be back in a space designed for teaching. One teacher told us, “We no longer wreck our lungs trying to be heard over noise from neighboring classrooms like we did in the provisional school where the walls were just plywood.” Juan Ramirez, the president of the Parents Association, told us “The children, parents, and teachers are very happy to be back in the school.”

 
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