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Nov 14, 2019

End of school year 2019 with excitement, joy and a genuine 'thank you' to our donors

Concepcion becoming a teacher
Concepcion becoming a teacher

In Guatemala, young people and children are often denied the opportunity to study for a variety of reasons, the main one being the lack of financial resources in their families. In Santiago Atitlán, elementary schools are public while for the higher levels, middle school and high schools, are almost exclusively private. Due to this, many families cannot afford to pay the monthly school fees for the higher education of their children and the extra costs deriving from books and other material. In most cases, young people are destined to stop their academic trajectory after elementary school or even earlier to start working and providing for their families. Another issue is the archaic belief that only men have the right to go to school, which persists in some families in the community and still affects young girls. 

Acknowledging this situation, Cojolya seeks to empower children and young people through education and to prepare them for a better life no matter their gender or economic situation.

This month we want to share with you the victory, the joy and the excitement of our beneficiaries: Julisa and Concepción are now new professionals in our community. On 27th October 2019, the two girls became teachers and demonstrated to the community that, with effort and dedication, women can achieve their dreams. On this joyful day, we would like to dedicate these achievements to our donors, who gave the support to make this possible.

We would also like to share with you the happiness and pride of Manuel and his family for the completion of the first step of his academic career: the graduation from elementary school. 

Everything that we have achieved this year is the fruit of the support of our donors, which enabled these young people to reach their objectives and change their destiny for the better. Now the life of our beneficiaries will be different from that of most young people in the community who start working from the age of 13 to help their parents cover the needs of the household. For the future, this is the reality we aim to change.

Our objective is that every childbenefiting from our program can one day become a professional, just like Concepción and Julissa, so that they will have access in the future to a dignified and well remunerated job. And thanks to that, may they be able to enhance the economic situation of their family. 

Julissa, happy to finally be a teacher
Julissa, happy to finally be a teacher
Julissa and Concepcion with their diplomas
Julissa and Concepcion with their diplomas
Excited Manuel upon receiving his diploma
Excited Manuel upon receiving his diploma
Manuel is happy to have reached his first goal
Manuel is happy to have reached his first goal
Oct 10, 2019

Perseverance is the secret to success

Dolores is a third-year student in a primary public school in Santiago Atitlan and she is the youngest in her family. Her brothers are not studying anymore, as all of them quit after finishing primary school.

At the beginning of her academic career, Dolores had difficulties with subjects such as maths, reading and writing, but through dedication and effort, she improved her academic performance in these three areas. Her teacher now says that her reading has dramatically developed. Another important achievement has been overcoming her shyness. In fact, from being a child who found it hard to express her point of view in class, little by little she has learned how to overcome her timidity.

What helped her in achieving this goal has been the materials and the tutoring that the ‘Mano a Mano program’ has been providing her every month. Thanks to the support she received, she managed to improve her abilities and carry out her homework without difficulties. 

 Her sisters did not have the opportunity to continue studying after primary school and they dedicate themselves to weaving and embroidering, the traditional arts that often provide an income for their mother and many other women in Santiago Atitlan.

Josefa, Dolores’ mom, is glad that her children had the opportunity to develop their capacity to read and write and learn Spanish as a second language, which not every Guatemalan can speak. Indeed, although it is the official language of the Country, there are indigenous populations who are raised speaking Mayan languages and do not have access to schools where they could learn it.

Dolores’ desire for her future is to get a broad understanding of life. She dreams of becoming a professional and an independent woman.

Sep 9, 2019

Mother tongue is the gateway to literacy

Dolores y Julisa escribiendo palabras en Tz
Dolores y Julisa escribiendo palabras en Tz'utujil

In the school curricula of the beneficiaries of our social program there is a course called “Communication and vocabulary in Tz’utujil”. However, for our students it can be a bit complicated to learn the reading and writing of this language, since they only exercise the speaking and listening by practicing with their families. Indeed, 98% of people in our community speak Tz’utujil, our mother tongue, but only a tiny fraction of the population knows how to read and write in it. Most of the parents did not have the opportunity to study and those who did only learned how to read and write in Spanish but cannot do the same in their mother tongue.

This is the reason why this month we practiced reading and writing in Tz’utujil with our beneficiaries. This has a great impact on their learning curve, since the students with difficulties cannot find help in their own households.

The activities started with a test consisting in the writing of 10 words to identify the level of each student. The results showed the need for more writing practice. Consequently, we revised the Tz’utujil alphabet, which only a small percentage of students knew by heart, while the rest could not fully remember. The final activities consisted in the reading of vocabularies, tongue twisters and a tale.

Our objective is to help our beneficiaries learn how to read and write without difficulties in Tz’utujil with the ambition of allowing them to appreciate their own culture and enhance their personal development. Tutoring has a fundamental role since it enables students to enhance their level of understanding of their mother tongue so that they can also use it as the base for the learning of new languages.

Revising the alphabet in Tz
Revising the alphabet in Tz'utujil
Hadasa, Lidia and Dolores enjoy their time reading
Hadasa, Lidia and Dolores enjoy their time reading
Dolores, Hadasa and Lidia reading tongue twisters
Dolores, Hadasa and Lidia reading tongue twisters
Julisa, Israel y Pedro reading a tale
Julisa, Israel y Pedro reading a tale

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