May 29, 2019

Recruiting Upriver...Paying it Forward!

We thank you, GlobalGivers! Now first-rate Guatemalan texts are available to all students at the Instituto Básico Comunitario Ak’ Tenamit, a Mayan middle school in the village of Seacacar. These books extend opportunities to their youth like never before. In this small community, where few adults can read and write, limited economic resources are available. Educational Director Emanuel Carrera Requeña explains that the town council is focused on creating opportunity, not dependency, with gender equality for all people that live on the banks of the Sauce River. Here, translated from Spanish, is a recent letter from Emanuel, updating us all.

Hi Friends:

I greet you from Guatemala City. Things have gone spectacularly well for each of the villages at this “Looking for Opportunities” conference. Our days are filled while we work towards completion. We know that all is possible when people have access to education. It is good that the essence of (Seacacar’s) sustainable tourism project is to finance education for the young men and women that live on the shores of the Rio Sauce watershed, so they are able to learn new things in our middle school.

In comparison to prior years, income from tourism has been low due to (local) roadblocks…Nevertheless we are committed to elevate Seacacar through the promotion and publicity of our majestic Seacacar Canyon.

Our student population grows every year; our facilities already are inadequate. For that reason we have put together a temporary classroom on the river’s edge. It doesn’t meet basic requirements, but we think of the phrase “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” We are working on proposals for various non-governmental organizations, and also some for government, to see in what way a classroom construction project could evolve. The work is arduous, but our commitment to bring sustainable tourism to Seacacar is strong.

We hope to greet you this year with positive news for Seacacar. Personally I thank you endlessly for all your effort to raise funds and buy books, or for other projects (the solar-powered library, for example) that will strengthen our community. I send photographs of the boys and girls studying, together with their beloved teachers. I hope that they serve you well. All send hugs to Kim, Debbie and Luke.

Emanuel Carrera Requeña

With good teachers and quality textbooks, Seacacar now has the resources to provide a quality education to more young people in thirteen neighboring villages. Council members are very proud of these educational gains, and are venturing upriver to recruit next year’s students. Paul Heesaker, founder of the Rios Fund and the Seacacar Canyon Natural Reserve tells us, The community wants to extend the help that they have received to others. They are paying it forward!

Feb 21, 2019

Seacacar is on the Map!

The tiny town of Seacacar has just put itself on the map! Only a few years ago, most Guatemalans had never even heard of this indigenous village, where seventy Q’eqchi’-speaking families still live-with no electricity or running water. Though its citizens became alarmed at the rate of deforestation in their forest home, neighboring communities continued cutting down trees to plant crops, and animals disappeared. Nevertheless, Seacacar parents continued working in the fields, aware that the young people needed opportunity and jobs. The town leaders knew that education was the way forward, but without any books or materials, that path seemed completely out of reach.

Now, after years of planning and back-breaking physical work, Seacacar’s future is changing dramatically. Residents young and old have planted trees, created nature trails, built a lodge, and learned to cook for tourists. The upshot: Reserva Natural Cañón Seacacar was recently declared a nature preserve.  It attracts eco-tourists as well as scientists. Educational Director Joaquín Emanuel Carrera Requeña reports that “the essence of this marvelous project is education.” And because of your generosity, GlobalGivers, all middle-school pupils at the Instituto Básico Comunitario Ak’ Tenamit learn from high-quality Guatemalan textbooks.   

Citizens have every reason to be proud of their accomplishments. Seacacar’s schools, with access to books and materials, are attracting youth from a dozen neighboring villages. According to Mr. Carrera the textbooks are helping to create “an atmosphere of better communication between the teacher and student.” The school board recently voted to double the number of students for next year. Enthusiasm is high; hope has returned.

Yesterday we received nineteen thank-you letters from Seacacar middle-school teens. All the letters are titled Mi Historia. The students write of illiterate parents who had no opportunity to study. They remember how, as young children, they gathered wood, worked in cornfields, and washed clothes by hand. They learned basic reading and writing skills in one-room schools with no books or materials. It wasn’t until third grade that teachers began to speak in Spanish. But in every one of their stories, a family member encouraged them to continue their studies in spite of all obstacles. Today those teens want to be doctors, teachers, and hotel managers. They want an education so they can help their families. They are so humble and very grateful. We thank you all.  

Oct 22, 2018

Redefining Education at Kajib' No'j

When the Austrian Guatemalan Institute founded Instituto Privado Mixto Kajib’ No’j almost twenty-five years ago, Mayan youth aspired to study for only two years.  In Momostenango today Kajib’ No’j offers ten years of classes, from pre-school through ninth grade.  However, textbooks and educational materials are expensive and scarce. 


Thank you, GlobalGiving supporters.  Students and faculty alike now enjoy Biblioteca Kajib’ No’j, a library that didn’t exist just over a year ago.  Beautiful bookshelves hold a variety of literature written by some of the world’s great authors, delighting middle school students.  Their younger siblings put puzzles together, play games and read charmingly-illustrated stories.  The availability of high-quality Guatemalan textbooks facilitates both teaching and learning. 


Much has changed in only fifteen months.  According to teachers, these resources are redefining the quality of education at Kajib’ No’j.  We recently received a long list of their comments.  “Writing is improving; imagination is developing; students are motivated to read a variety of books; they are evaluating culture; students’ vocabularies are growing; they’re becoming more pensive.”  Alicia, school secretary, thanks you all.  “The books and materials have been of much benefit to both students and teachers.”


Still, there is much to be done.  At From Books to Brilliance, we plan to continue our partnership with the Kajib’ No’j Private Institute for many years to come.     Visit us at to learn about the ongoing progress that your support enables!  We thank you for your trust in us and this literacy mission.

Gracias!  from all of us at Kajib' No'j
Gracias! from all of us at Kajib' No'j
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