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Oct 5, 2018

Diego, David, and a Mother's Love

Diego sneaks a smile during our art workshop
Diego sneaks a smile during our art workshop

Brothers David and Diego are only 12 and 11 years old respectively, but they have been working since they were even younger. In their home, having a true childhood in which they could simply play and go to school was difficult because they had to help with the family income to compensate for their father’s alcoholism.

Their mother, Juana, makes accessories made out of colourful beads. This artisan craft is a very common trade in Santiago Atitlán, that is (apparently) easy to learn, and requires very little budget to acquire the materials. Juana is a very hard worker, but her income as an artisan is insufficient to support her 4 sons to go to school.

David and Diego are the oldest brothers of the family and play a significant role in supporting their mother with her work and everyday chores. Everyday, they go to school in the morning, and come back in the afternoon to work until night to make accessories with their mother. Putting their forces together, they work in the hope of having a more financially secure and stable family.

Almost twins, David and Diego are in the same grade at their public school, and finishing the school year is a significant achievement for them. Their greatest dream is to be able to attend University and become professionals.

Like many mothers in our community, Juana’s first priority is her childrens’ well-being and progress no matter the sacrifices that supporting them may involve. Without financial support from her husband, she serves the role of two parents all year long, doing whatever she can to make sure her sons can stay in school.

At Cojoyla, we work to create employment with just wages for local women in Juana’s position. We aim to empower families and help them develop their vocational skills so that we can work together to better their quality of life.

Cojolya and its social program Mano a Mano para el Desarrollo are essential institutions for the artisans of Santiago and their families. We hope to offer children like David and Diego with the necessary emotional and academic support to stay in school, reach their goals, and access opportunities that have been systematically limited in Santiago Atitlán.

We believe David and Diego can become role models to both their younger brothers and other members of the community. Their mother’s love and dedication along with their hard work, resilience, and ambitions motivate and inspire us everyday to strengthen and improve our social programming.

We dream of a day where children like David and Diego won’t have to work in order to afford to go to school. Dream with us.

With your donation, help us build our program and empower the kids in our community to stay in school!











David drawing his favorite games at the town fair
David drawing his favorite games at the town fair
Headshot of Diego on our roof
Headshot of Diego on our roof
Headshot of David on our rooftop
Headshot of David on our rooftop
Sep 4, 2018

Art Classes and the Importance of Creativity

Mano a mano director Jose and a painting he made
Mano a mano director Jose and a painting he made

6 months ago, Mano a Mano officially launched the weekend activities with the kids! We have worked very hard to build this tutoring program so that it can be as useful as it is interesting and fun for the participants. We recently evaluated the results of our objectives and looked into the the children’s feedback more closely. Since then, we have adapted our agenda and revised our workshop’s framework.

Our program’s coordinator, José, has incredible artistic talent, which he has been developing as an artisan and painter since a young age. We all agreed that it would be ludicrous not to take advantage of his natural aptitudes for the benefit of the children of Mano a Mano! Therefore, along with the magisterial classes and reading classes, we decided to include thematic art classes to our program. So far, the children are loving it!

We believe that adding art classes to our curriculum brings many benefits to the children and offers a great way to learn differently than at school. Introducing art activities to the kids helps them develop their creativity, makes them practice their problem resolution skills, challenges their patience, encourages determination and dedication, all the while improving their self-confidence.

In our first art workshop, we saw the immense enthusiasm that the kids had for learning and discovering their artistic abilities, and we were very happy to see that the students were both interested and participated energetically in this new area of the program. Our first workshop was introductory, so our topic was “Painting techniques.” Not all the participants have had the opportunity to paint, trace, or draw before. We taught them a few techniques such as drawing and combining shapes to make a landscape so that they can express their imagination, but the best part of this first workshop was discovering that some of the children do have immense artistic ability and would only need some support to develop their talents. It would make us so proud to see a future where a few of the kids become professional painters because painting, along with weaving, is also an important artistic tradition for our pueblo.

We could only use the materials and resources that we already had at our disposition, which ended up being just enough pieces of paper for each student and some colored pencils. Yet, something that struck our attention was that we were able to work with the few materials that were available to us. Unfortunately, our program lacks the resources to create a more robust arts program, but we are convinced that art not only has the capacity to motivate our kids to stay in school but also can help them discover their creative talents. In spite of the challenges, we are dedicated to developing our arts workshops.

We need your help to afford art supplies for all the children! With your donations, we wish to purchase color pencils, paint, brushes, and canvas that can be use over a year-long workshops series.

Please consider donating! <3



Hadasa draws next to her giggling sister Damaris
Hadasa draws next to her giggling sister Damaris
Jose Miguel shows his work to the class
Jose Miguel shows his work to the class
Aug 2, 2018

Motivating Dolores's Family to Keep her in School

Dolores and her mother Josefa
Dolores and her mother Josefa

Dolores is an intelligent, curious, and cheerful ten-year-old girl from our town of Santiago Atitlán. Her favorite things in the world are books, her family, English class, and chocolate. 

Dolores comes from a family of artisans and farmers with very limited financial resources, and she is the youngest of her sibilings. Her two brothers are eighteen and twenty years old and are currently working on the family's farm. Her three sisters, who are eleven, thirteen, and fifteen years old, and they dedicate their time to making Mayan artisan crafts to help support their parents. 

Dolores is one of the most faithful participants in Cojolya's activities, to which she always comes to participate with her mother who is an artisan for the organization. Dolores says that she has learned a lot at Cojolya and feels like she is a part of the association. Moreover, she loves the camera and adores being photographed during our special events. She is a very curious and participative child, actively engaging in our extra-curricular activies as much as she engages in her schoolwork. 

Sadly, Dolores's family does not share her opinion about the importance of education and, as a result, prevented her five older siblings from going to school. It is an unfortunate reality that the value of education is not universally accepted, especially in the most rural parts of Guatemala. The decision to push children to work instead of furthering their education has a practical rationalization as most families struggle to find the economic resources to send their kids to school. 

As an association, we do not want to judge these hard choices that families make for their children, as we understand the systemic economic barriers that burden so many of the disempowered, indigenous families in Santiago Atitlán. The mentality has been this way for generations, but a majority of families are not beginning to change their views about the importance of education, putting the town on a path toward great development. 

Nonetheless, we believe that Dolores's future can be different. With the right help, she could be the first in her family to complete her school curriculum, and therefore break the barriers that have prevailed in her family for many generations. We believe that working together, there is still time to work with her and her mother to set a shared goal for her future. 

The intention behind the Mano a Mano Para el Desarrollo Program is, in part, to offer a platform where we as a community can reflect upon and be more aware of the value of education as a key to grow toward social mobility. 

With your generous DONATION, we could afford to continue our work and help Dolores and many other young girls in her situation continue to go to school. 

Dolores sits in the front row in a green guipil
Dolores sits in the front row in a green guipil
Dolores stands next to her older sister Pascuala
Dolores stands next to her older sister Pascuala
 
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