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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
Jul 3, 2018

Mano a Mano : The Computer's Access Initiative

Kids after receiving their annual school supplies
Kids after receiving their annual school supplies

After analyzing the data that we collected through our qualitative investigation in the year of 2017, we were able to identify the main problems related to the high level of school drop outs here in Santiago Atitlán. Along with a lack of role models and external support, we found that the financial barrier was the most predominant obstacle for school attendance. On account of this, we have evaluated the main components of this financial issue to better understand which school-related costs are the heaviest for the families to bear. As of now, we have begun to work on some potential long-term solutions, and we are monitoring their repercussions carefully. 

One of the biggest financial challenges for the families of Cojolya was the annual cost of Internet and printing, along with the accessibility of a computer itself. With that in mind, we decided to create a program located in Cojolya’s office that grants FREE access to two computers with Internet connection, color printing machines, and a copying machine, available for all children taking part in the Mano a Mano program.

 This initiative was officially launched in January 2018, and has since helped to reduce the educational fees of 9 different children. So far, only the first annual trimester’s data has been analyzed (from January to March), and we are confident that the number of participants and rate of participation will continue to grow. Furthermore we have evaluated that over the past three months alone, families of the association have saved approximately 1,700 Quetzals (aprox. $245 US) on computer usage and printing!

The cost of school supplies was also a sizeable financial burden for the families. At the beginning of 2018, in addition to increasing computer and printing accessibility, we started offering scholar tutorship and material support. We have also distributed supplies from collected donations, thereby covering 50% of the school supply fees for all 9 of the children who participated.

We are very proud of what our program has been able to accomplish in so little time, but we continue to dream bigger for our program and our children! For the year 2018-2019, our wish is to make this program even more accessible by offering our children larger time slots for computer usage under the presence of José, our full-time coordinator. Additionally, with your support, we hope to cover 100% of the material supplies fees for all children of Cojolya within next year.

We are forever grateful for your support.

Please consider donating to make our computer’s access initiative stronger!

To learn more about the Mano a Mano program, read our report HERE, or check out our WEBSITE.

Jun 18, 2018

The Story of Jose Santos Sicay Mesia

Jose and his family
Jose and his family


Our new Coordinator of the Mano a Mano program


José has been a member of Cojolya since 2014. From a very young age, he was obligated to work so he could afford going to school. One of his goal was to be able to graduate from High School, but, in order to do that, he had to earn his own money since his family had very limited financial resources.

As an artisan, José has an incredible talent for the elaboration of the ‘’Jaspe’’, which is an ancestral skill that implies to make visual design only with the wrapping threads of the weaving. When he was still a kid, he learned the Jaspe technique on its own initiative, and began working with people from his community. Through the years, he sold his Jaspe to the artisans that made the weaving on a larger floor looms. Today, he says that the money he earned doing that wasn’t worth his work and competence, but was at least sufficient to cover his scholar fees.

José is Adrea’s brother, one of our most talented weaver and member of our association for more than 20 years. Following his sister’s path by becoming an artisan member of the assocation himself, José was part of the first Mano a Mano para el Desarrollo’s cohort, when he was still finishing his last year of High School.

Now, José is officially a graduated professional. He is the very first of his family to achieve this goal, and is now a role model for his little sisters that are now following his path, but also for other artisans and other people of his neighborhood. It is a real joy and pride for us at Cojolya to know that our association has been able to play a positive influence in José’s path to his scholar success. 

Thanks to your generous contributions and collaboration through our last campaign, we have opened a new position especially for José as our new coordinator of the Mano a Mano program, so that, he also, can help to generate the positive impact for the other children of Cojolya. With his work, José will be able to guide the students through academic workshops, reading circles, and more. Even with these new professional responsibilities, José is still aware of the importance of his work as an artisan, and maintain all his textile activities.

For that the artisans can also pursue a path to self-development, and for that the students can also achieve their scholar goals, it is mandatory that José stays in the association, and therefore be a life role model for our members and their family.

With your donations, we wish to be able to offer the opportunity of having José as a full-time Coordinator of the program Mano a Mano para el Desarrollo, for the wonderful mentorship he can offer to the students of our program.


Please, consider supporting us so José can afford working full time with us!

To learn more about the Mano a Mano program, read our report HERE, or check out our WEBSITE.

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