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Feb 22, 2019

The 2019 Schoolyear Brings Excitement in spite of Challenges

Israel, Hadasa, and Damaris are ready for school!
Israel, Hadasa, and Damaris are ready for school!

Our Mano a Mano students are looking forward to 2019 as they take their first steps in achieving their academic goals this year.

 

Usually, the beginning of the schoolyear is a stressful time for families across Guatemala. The cost of school supplies is a substantial economic strain for families who struggle to make ends meet. Their inability to pull together sufficient funds to buy school supplies to support their kids’ education can be embarrassing and disincentivizing for students who feel that education is not their priority in an economically trying time for indigenous Guatemalan communities. In spite of the dark news for indigenous Guatemalans fleeing a nation that offers them little economic opportunity, discrimination, and government corruption that hearkens back to the War, the beginning of this schoolyear was a happy moment for our Mano a Mano families. Thanks to our donors, parents and students alike were grateful and happy to receive a backpack and school supplies, necessary for celebrating the beginning of the new year. 

 

Two of our students, Yulisa and Concepción, are excited as they will finish their professional degrees in education this year. They have long dreamed of working with preschool students and have already started their “prácticas” where they work as assistant teachers for four year olds. The work is tiring, but they have a hopeful outlook and are learning a great deal.

 

Pedro and Israel have experienced big changes this year as they have entered high school! While the academics are new and challenging, reaching the goal of attending high school is an inspiring achievement. Israel has been a wonderful example for his younger sisters, who he has taught how to use the computers in our offices, going as far as to help them with his homework. Students like him are positive role models for  neighbors and friends as well as they have the initiative to succeed and enjoy being part of an educational program as it helps them progress.

 

Mano a Mano is giving the opportunity of a better future to these students through offering them academic support as an education is a primary goal in life for students of this generation.  

Damariz
Damariz's 1st year of school, with a big backpack
Diego and David showing off new school supplies
Diego and David showing off new school supplies
Costly supplies are a strain for local families
Costly supplies are a strain for local families
Diego, 13, and David, 14, head off to school!
Diego, 13, and David, 14, head off to school!
Yulissa and Chonita will graduate as teachers
Yulissa and Chonita will graduate as teachers

Links:

Dec 31, 2018

Pedro's First Step Towards Success

Pedro and his 8th grade teacher
Pedro and his 8th grade teacher

The photos that middle school graduates receive at their closing ceremony reflect how this key moment of growth is both celebratory and formal within our community. A gregarious and curious 13-year-old, Pedro looks serious at his middle school graduation in contrast to the usual endearing images of him mid-conversation or letting out one of his huge laughs. Even so, graduating from middle school is nothing short of significant for Pedro and his family.

 

This year, we had the honor of supporting Pedro across the schoolyear, and he reached his initial goal of graduating middle school, which he set for himself when we first began developing our Mano a Mano para el Desarrollo social program almost two years ago. As a team, we are so proud of him because he is the first of his siblings to graduate from middle school. His parents are so happy and are hopeful that as the eldest, he will be an example for his three younger siblings so that he can inspire them to follow in his footsteps.

 

Pedro’s mother is an artisan who does beadwork, and his father is a travelling salesman who once dreamed of graduating from college but had to drop out of secondary school when his family fell on hard times. Fortunately, Pedro’s aunt, a warper and weaver at Cojolya named Magdalena Reanda Pacach, connected him with Cojolya’s academic resources that are available thanks to your support and the impact of your generous donations.

 

In the photos from his closing ceremony, Pedro did eventually let his usual triumphant smile shine. He has reached a crucial moment because he has many more steps to take before graduating with a university degree in education, which is his dream for now. A participative, artistic, and friendly member of our program, Pedro would be an outstanding mentor not only for his siblings but also within our community.

 

“I am so excited to meet the teachers, make new friends, and learn even more in high school,” Pedro says about the coming schoolyear. Yet, we still need your support in these last moments of 2018 so that we can help Pedro continue his studies and help the other 12 students in our program pursue their dreams in the coming schoolyear.

 

Once more, we are deeply appreciative of all the donations from our 2017 campaign because through them, we could support our kids this year, and we are thankful for all the generous people who have donated and are donating to our project in 2018. Thank you!

 

From Cojolya and Mano a Mano, we wish you happy holidays and a Happy New Year!

Pedro and his parents, he is the eldest of 4 kids
Pedro and his parents, he is the eldest of 4 kids
Pedro loves learning and cant wait for high school
Pedro loves learning and cant wait for high school
Our 13 Mano a Mano students
Our 13 Mano a Mano students
Dec 13, 2018

Empower Brothers and Sisters: Israel's Graduation

Israel at his Middle School Graduation
Israel at his Middle School Graduation

The average family in Santiago Atitlán has about 3 - 5 children, and the Pablo Ajcots are no exception with a 14 year-old son, Israel, a 10 year old daughter, Hadasa, and a 6 year old daughter, Damariz. Their father, Salvador, is Cojolya’s Master Tailor and a member of our entirely Tz’utujil Board of Directors, and his hands craft our woven fabric into every final piece. Their mother, Sara, occasionally makes some güipiles but mainly tends to the home. Though the two of them only reached the 1st grade, they want their children to focus entirely on their studies instead of working while outside of school, which is the only option for many students in Santiago Atitlán who need to pay for their studies. 

As an organization that has supported social mobility in Santiago Atitlán for 35 years, we often assess educational opportunities through a generational lens. Reflecting on this community development on a familial level, we wonder--what if parents here had enough neighboring role models to value education and encourage each one of their children to pursue their passions? What changes can we make so that the eldest sibling did not always need to sacrifice their schooling so that their younger siblings could maybe afford to have an education? This is particularly true for girls who are not encouraged to remain in school as much as their male peers.

The Pablo Ajcots live off of Salvador’s wages, which, though higher than most tailors’ pay in Atitlán, just barely support a family of 5. Every quetzal is saved for necessities- food, shelter, education. In spite of their limited schooling funds, Israel has accomplished his initial goals in the Mano a Mano program and can thereby set an example for his younger sisters. Israel is a driven dreamer who hopes to become a mechanic and have the opportunity to travel the world, and he is the first in his family to graduate from middle school. After years of quiet diligence, never missing a class, Israel’s achievement is a huge honor for his family. Our intergenerational relationship with our artisans and their families make these celebratory moments all the more fulfilling.

The personal, intentional work within our small program makes us attuned to how we can best support each individual artisan family. Hadasa, much like her brother, is introspective, thoughtful, and a dreamer, often found quietly humming Tz’utujil songs and drawing during our workshops with the students. When suffering a life-threatening virus two years ago, she missed enough school to remain was far behind her classmates but now hopes to become a pediatrician so that she can prevent the suffering of other children in her community.

In Santiago Atitlán, childhood dream jobs often do not come to fruition for reasons that transcend outgrowing them. As Hadasa has two other siblings, her parents are unable to afford to send her to school past sixth grade. The academic opportunities for Damariz, the youngest sister, is all the more uncertain as she is so young and her parents’ artisan incomes depend heavily on sales and commissions.

While we support the sons, brothers, and nephews of our artisans in the Mano a Mano, as an organization primarily dedicated to empowering indigenous women, we make a concerted effort to keep the daughters and sisters of our associates in school due to gendered cultural norms that do not prioritize women’s education. Though Salvador believes both boys and girls should have a right to education, we have faith that Israel’s accomplishments will motivate his parents to try their best to give their daughters the same opportunity. However, as you can see through Israel’s success, the financial burden is eased through your support. We hope that our families’ stories demonstrate how your contributions’ seemingly small, local change can have a powerful impact across generations in our community.

Consider donating to our project during these end of year celebrations so that we can support Israel and his little sisters' educations during the following Guatemalan schoolyear. Mano a Mano wishes you a happy almost holidays! 




Salvador and his youngest daughter Damaris 2015
Salvador and his youngest daughter Damaris 2015
Hadasa, 10, at our Reading Workshop
Hadasa, 10, at our Reading Workshop
Sisters Hadasa and Damariz Pablo at our Art Class
Sisters Hadasa and Damariz Pablo at our Art Class
 
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