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Jan 7, 2019

What's New with the Ecological Beekeepers?

Juan holds a frame already 60% full of honey
Juan holds a frame already 60% full of honey

“This is the most cohesive group we’ve partnered with,” says Genaro Simalaj, Pueblo a Pueblo Beekeeping project technician. “They work very well together, they are well-organized, and as a result, their hives are more stable and more successful than we’ve seen from any other partner group at this stage in the project.”

This is high praise coming from Genaro, a seasoned beekeeper himself who has acted as mentor to each of Pueblo a Pueblo’s four Beekeeping partner groups. Genario believes that while the Ecological Beekeepers of San Pablo La Laguna have a ways to go, they are well-positioned to grow into a highly successful collective.

The group, in the first year of its partnership with Pueblo a Pueblo, is likely to succeed because its members are connected in so many ways beyond their work in the apiary. They share mutual interests and activities; many are active in efforts to conserve Lake Atitlán and the local agro-ecological movement to protect indigenous food traditions and native seeds. There are also several midwives in the group who work together on a regular basis. With so much in common, and so much trust already established between group members, the Ecological Beekeepers are building their collective on a rock-solid foundation.

Group members hike up to the apiary every two weeks to check on their hives, refill the bees’ food and water supplies, and clear the area of vegetation. Thanks to the group’s careful efforts, not only are their hives in healthy condition, but they have tripled in size! Since the beekeepers started in September, they have installed two additional levels to each of their hives.

Genaro visited the group in late November to lead a second training, this time on the topic of the bee colony. He opened up the hives and showed the beekeepers-in-training how to identify the different bees that make up each colony: drones, workers, and—of course—the queen. Arriving on the heels of a cold, humid couple of weeks, Genaro imparted some strategies to help bees survive these trying conditions, showing the group how to install plastic sheets in the hives for added insulation.

According to Genaro’s latest estimate, the collective already has at least 150 pounds of honey in its hives! Most beekeepers hope for a first harvest of around 45 pounds, but the Ecological Beekeepers are on track to surpass that goal easily when they harvest later this month. They have the tools and they’re ready to go—Genaro visited again in late December to lead a training on the processing and packaging of honey and drop off the materials they will need to bottle their first harvest.

We can’t wait to see all that the Ecological Beekeepers will continue to achieve as a collective. Here’s to a successful harvest and a 2019 full of even more capacity building and collaboration!

Genaro checks the hives as group members look on
Genaro checks the hives as group members look on
Genaro (in black) with group members at a training
Genaro (in black) with group members at a training

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Nov 26, 2018

School's Out...But Reading is In!

Lidia leads a game
Lidia leads a game

Our Pathways to Literacy team works hard alongside primary school teachers to provide young students with access to school libraries full of good books to read. They also collaborate with teachers to lead activities that help students learn to read and write. But what happens when the school year ends? In Guatemala, school lets out in early October and classes don’t start again until January. That’s more than a two month break from the regular reading practice kids need to keep working toward literacy! Without constant reinforcement of literacy skills, young students tend to lose ground in their learning.

That’s why our team leads vacation literacy programs at each of our active partner schools every winter. This year, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Pathways to Literacy team is leading sessions in Patzilin Abaj and Nueva Providencia. By the end of the last session, the project will have provided two weeks of literacy-oriented activities to fifty children across the two communities.

The first session of this year’s vacation literacy programming began on October 29th. Lidia, Pathways to Literacy Project Manager, arrived at Nueva Providencia Primary School early in the morning and unlocked the door to the library for the first time in weeks. In the mornings, she worked with a group of younger children from first through third grades, and in the afternoon with a group of older kids from fourth through sixth grades. Each day, Lidia focused on a different theme, like stories, games, art, or theatre. “They are literacy classes,” explains Rebeca, Pathways to Literacy Project Consultant, “but they are more fun than the regular classes the students receive during the school year. The vacation sessions are more engaging, more creative, more dynamic for students—we want to give them a chance to unwind a little bit after the long school year.”

This year was particularly exciting one because of a generous gift from a group of visiting volunteers. The group was in Guatemala for a week of volunteering with Pueblo a Pueblo, and they brought a donation of thirty electronic tablets, already loaded with Spanish-language children’s books and carefully-selected educational applications. At Nueva Providencia, Lidia passed out a tablet to each of the students and soon they were all reading the same story about a mischievous monkey, swiping through page by page in unison. Afterwards, Lidia quizzed the students. “What kind of animal was the main character in this book?” she asked. “What was the moral of this story?”

Pueblo a Pueblo’s vacation camp is the only activity of its kind available to young students in Nueva Providencia and Patzilin Abaj. This summer, fifty kids will spend two weeks reading, writing, playing, and laughing—and now they are even more excited to return to school in January to have more fun in the library! Thank you for helping our team inspire a love of reading, writing, and storytelling among young learners.

Lidia reads a story aloud using a tablet
Lidia reads a story aloud using a tablet
Students follow along on their tablets
Students follow along on their tablets

Links:

Nov 26, 2018

In Their Own Words: Diana

Principal Diana Juarez Azanon
Principal Diana Juarez Azanon

The end of the year is a rewarding time at Pueblo a Pueblo because it is when we take stock of each of our nine projects, analyzing the fruits of our team’s hard work in preparation for another year of collaboration and innovation. Our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools project is no exception. One of the most important ways we measure our projects’ success is by interviewing community partners to hear, in their own words, the changes a project brought to their lives.

This year, one of the community partners we spoke with was Diana Juarez Azañon, principal at San Juan Mirador Primary School. Here’s what Diana had to say:

Four years ago, before this project, our school had problems related to water because even though we are located at the edge of a river, we did not have access to running water. We also had another even more serious problem: the bathrooms. We only had three bathroom stalls for the whole school and they were in terrible condition. They usually did not flush, the students had to wait in line for a long time in order to use the bathroom, and we only had one sink for students to wash their hands in. It was a difficult situation.

The WASH team at Pueblo a Pueblo became aware of the situation at Diana’s school and conducted a visit. Our team found the conditions Diana described, and they also found a school full of teachers and administrators like Diana: passionate about providing a cleaner, healthier learning environment for their students. Pueblo a Pueblo then worked with Diana and her team of educators to install new toilets, new handwashing stations, and hand soap dispensers—San Juan Mirador's first step toward a healthier school! They also converted an unused bathroom into a classroom, creating a brand new space for student learning. Diana reflected on the results of these efforts:

Before the WASH project, my students’ lives were difficult. They lived in unhygienic conditions because we did not have the resources to provide them a sanitary environment here at school and their families could not provide that at home either since most of our students come from families of few economic resources. The changes in habits that my students have acquired because of this project are many: they now know to use the bathrooms and how to wash their hands; they are now aware of their own health and they take care to avoid getting sick due to poor hygiene. Pueblo a Pueblo’s support means so much to me and to my school because it has equipped us to prevent illnesses among our students by promoting personal hygiene.

Thank you for supporting efforts that keep Diana’s students healthy and happy! Your support fuels our WASH project’s success.

Students celebrate the new facilities
Students celebrate the new facilities
A new bathroom (with handwashing stations)
A new bathroom (with handwashing stations)
Students in the new classroom
Students in the new classroom

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