Nov 8, 2018

Final project report

Juliet Guadelupe, 6 years old.
Juliet Guadelupe, 6 years old.

Juliet Guadelupe is one of the newest girls in our programme. She started coming here at the beginning of this year. A shy but happy girl who barely have missed an afternoon of our programme. Recently, she additionally was enrolled in our Lunchroom where she now shows up from Monday to Thursday to eat lunch with the rest of the 53 children that attend the lunchroom. One of her favourite things to do here is to skip a rope together with her friends during the free games and in the lunchroom, her favourite food is chorizo and vegetables. During the 10 months she´s been attending our programme she has shaken off some of her shyness and it is easier for her to play with new friends.

Another effort that we have enhanced this year is related to our scholarship programme. We are now doing more to obtain scholarships for the children that graduate from primary school so more will continue studying in secondary school. Juan Carlos, 14, is one of the kids that has already found a sponsor. According to him, the scholarship is a huge help. Juan Carlos is not at all sure that he would have been able to continue studying after he finishes primary school in a couple of weeks. He´s very thankful for the opportunity that his sponsor will be giving him. Juan Carlos´ dream is to keep studying until he graduates from the university as a proud and professional architect.  

 

In the end of October, the children graduated from the respective grades and have now started the two months of vacations they have ahead of them. As anticipated, now the children are out of school, the number of participants in our afternoon programme has increased slightly, and we expect it to continue increasing the rest of the year. Furthermore, there are some specific activities we usually do during vacation time and we hope to be able to execute these activities this year as well. These include a Christmas lunch, a special activity with the oldest children that graduate from sixth grade and bingo day for all our participants.   

Lately, we have been working closely with a group of MA students in graphic design from a local university. They are helping us in improving our PR material and have been planning and elaborating material for a new promotion campaign. We are very eager to see the fruits of this collaboration and have found it very beneficial to engage in collaborations with groups of university students in order to benefit from their expert knowledge and abilities while also providing local students with real cases and a higher purpose with their studies.  

Caras Alegres has been running well this year. We have been trying out new activities both by ourselves and in collaboration with other entities; NGO´s, universities, more national volunteers and so on. It has been a busy year, but also a year that has represented growth for our organisation. We have decided to rethink our fundraising strategies because the more we grow and expand our activities, the more funding we need. For this reason, we have decided to deactivate our GlobalGiving fundraiser and reorganise our fundraising efforts. This, however, requires some time to develop a strategy. In the future, we hope to continue a good collaboration with GlobalGiving, but for now, we will take a step back. To both donators and the GG team, thank you for your support.

Juan Carlos, 14, future architect in the making!
Juan Carlos, 14, future architect in the making!
Aug 7, 2018

Caras Alegres' nutrition initiatives

Recently, we had a visit from cookery students at the INTECAP college in Quetzaltenango who planned and cooked nutritious meals and a sweet treat for our children in the Lunchroom programme. This programme offers food to around fifty children, four days a week and all cooked by our cook and assistant cook whom are both mothers from the community. Over the two days, both the children here at Caras Alegres and the students thoroughly enjoyed themselves and even had time for a game of football afterwards! Thank you to Manuel and his students

 

We have also been weighing and measuring the children to see the effects of our Lunchroom programme but also to understand the physicality of the children who attend our afternoon programme as well. It will be interesting and hopefully exciting to see the change in weight and height over time and the extent to which our programme is having its intended aim. Many of them at present are underweight for their age and we will do everything we can to change this and to help reduce the malnutrition of these children. Guatemala as a country has high levels of malnutrition, placing at number six for worldwide levels of chronic malnutrition which clearly shows why we took the opportunity to improve levels of nutrition within our own community.

 

This leads to our success story of Judith, an eleven-year-old girl attending our programme, who just last month was delighted at having put on eight pounds since the inception of the Lunchroom programme in January! She came running into the office with the excellent news, straight from having been weighed the health clinic and we were just as happy as she was. We hope that by having higher levels of nutrition, the children are able to concentrate more and therefore perform better academically. For us, it is really important and rewarding to see the effects of our good work and we can’t wait to hear other similar stories in the near future.

  

Our women’s literacy programme is also a new initiative to begin this year and so far, it has been very effective where in a community there a high number of illiterate women compared to men. The programme runs just like all our other programmes, Monday to Thursday but instead, it operates in the evenings and is run by a social worker. There are fourteen regular attendees of the programme, eleven of whom are mothers to children attending Caras Alegres Tarde. We are very grateful to be increasing our number of direct beneficiaries from this community.

May 7, 2018

Happy Faces and Full Stomachs at Caras Alegres

Happy girls :)
Happy girls :)

Since the last report where many new things had just been implemented, Caras Alegres has spent the last months strengthening the routine of our daily work. The Lunchroom is now up and running as if the project has been going on for much longer, and moreover, we start to see the children who attend this specific part of our program, gain weight and generally look healthier. It will be very interesting to see the changes measured and quantified in our halfway evaluation in a couple of months. Furthermore, currently we are raising funds for some equipment needed in the kitchen. We want to be able to store our food supplies properly, and for this, we need a bigger refrigerator and a freezer.

Another new initiative in Caras Alegres is the expansion of our sponsorship program. We believe that there are some strong advantages sponsoring a child through us than through some of the bigger organisations that manage sponsorships as well, and lately our focus on these benefits have helped us establishing some scholarships for secondary school children that otherwise very likely would not keep studying after graduating from primary school. This is a huge win for us because it helps us maintain contact with some of the older children while also allowing them to keep studying. New PR material and structuring the sponsorship options within the framework of the global SDG´s have been relevant factors for this positive change.

As always, we do diverse activities with the children during the afternoons. An increased focus from the administrative side on structuring and establishing our formal M&E plan for the program has made us ask the children about their opinions on Caras Alegres and the activities they do while spending their afternoons with us. It is very clear to us that the different handicrafts, where the children get to use different materials, create, and manufacture products they can bring home and show their families, are activities that the children much enjoy. We still do weeklong workshops with the children once a month where they get to put more effort into the chosen handicraft project. They really like having the time and opportunity to dive further into the creation of a specific object and it is great to see how proud they are when they finish a workshop like this.

Finally, we want to present you to four children. They are siblings between 5 and 13 years old. All four of them attend our programs, both the Lunchroom and the regular afternoon program. Little sister is always among the first three children that arrive every day around noon. She´s a little artist that absolutely loves drawing and painting and she tells us about the drawing tips her mother teaches her at home. Big brother is attending last year of primary school. During a couple of months he was very worried about next year because he´s parents had told him that they don´t have the money to send him in secondary school next year. However, his maturity and intelligence have now secured him a scholarship for the next three years and he´s back to being the happy kid that does not worry about having to leave school and start working full time. The two brothers in between are two cheerful kids. The biggest of them says he likes everything he does when being in Caras Alegres while the energetic little brother practically spends every free moment on a bicycle.

Thank you for all support!

Proud of the result of a workshop - a fox bag :)
Proud of the result of a workshop - a fox bag :)
Kids proudly showing the result of workshop :)
Kids proudly showing the result of workshop :)
The four siblings mentioned above
The four siblings mentioned above
 
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