By Omar Mejia - Director of the Acorn Childcare Center
Meet Ana, one of our new students at Acorn Childcare Center this year! Ana is 2 years old and lives with her 5 year old brother and both parents, Vanesa and Elmer, a couple that is a bit different than other families at the Acorn Childcare Center. They are a family that has more education and supposedly more job possibilities than many other families at the Center, but they fell on hard times during the pandemic and as a result sought our support. This is a clear example of how the pandemic has drastically affected the economy and livelihoods of so many families in Guatemala, hurting both the poor and middle class alike.
Vanesa and Elmer were both students slowly working their way through university but 5 years ago, when their son was born, they had to dedicate their time to finding work. Elmer works as an independent credit card salesman for the bank but has had months without sales or income as a result of the pandemic. In addition, due to the pandemic, Vanessa lost her job as an office assistant, and they suddenly found themselves in a very difficult situation trying to provide for their two children.
Vanesa and Elmer tell us that the food stipend they receive from our Center has been incredibly helpful for their family, allowing them to purchase nutritious food for their children. Vanesa and Elmer also love the online classes that Ana receives each day. The videos and lessons have been great guides for them as parents in how to engage with their children and help Ana develop many important skills before she enters school. Vanesa said, “We knew it was important to stimulate our daughter’s development but as we are not teachers, we had no idea how to do this. But with the methodology of the Acorn Center, we are able to support our daughter’s development and use these classes as a guide. We have noticed in this short time that Ana has significantly improved her vocabulary, her confidence, and she loves singing and dancing.”
The couple enjoy working together to help Ana complete the different activities and projects for her online classes. Ana has also benefited from seeing classmates online every day and creating connections with other children her age. Even though they have never met in person, she has created a bond with the other students and teachers.
Thank you for continuing to help us provide such important encouragement and support for this new family at the Acorn Childcare Center.
May 12, 2021
Maintaining connection in a time of isolation
By Omar Mejia - Director of the Acorn Childcare Center
Meet Joi, one of our new students this year. Joi is 4 years old and lives with his mother, Ana, a single mother who suffers from epilepsy. She has attacks twice a month, sometimes more depending on her stress level. Because of her epilepsy, Ana sometimes has to live with her parents so they can take care of her. Ana and Joi no longer live with Joi’s father due to his history of violence, incarceration and substance abuse.
When Joi was born, he was diagnosed as bow-legged. This has limited his normal physical development. Currently, he receives physical therapy twice a week to help correct his condition. They are hopeful that by the time he is 8 or 9 years old, he’ll be able to walk normally.
Ana tells us that the services offered the Acorn Center have greatly helped her and Joi, her only child. Many of the daily educational videos require that the students work together with their parents and Ana tells us that these activities have helped her and Joi connect in new ways and deepen their bond.
Due to the pandemic, Joi has had very little contact with other children. The daily videos help Joi connect with peers by watching each other’s videos and getting to know the other children. It is not the same as in-person socialization, but it has been a big help for him to feel a bit of a connection to other kids during this year.
Also due to the pandemic, Ana is currently unemployed and she and Joi depend on the weekly food stipend that the Center provides to her family to purchase basic food.
The many struggles that this family is facing are hard to imagine—it is inspiring to witness Ana’s strength and perseverance as she tries to provide a better life for her son. The Acorn Childcare Center is one of the few institutions that supports low-income families in Guatemala, and is usually the only support available for families like Ana and Joi. Thank you for your continued support!
After a brief pause over Christmas and the New Year, school supplies and video lessons went out this week to families of students enrolled at the Acorn Childcare Center. We celebrated four children who have officially graduated and are due to start kindergarten this month:
Daniela Monserrat is 5 years old. She has been a student at the Center for two years, experiencing a mix of in-person and at-home learning. She is very bright, loving and happy to participate in many activities, especially with her friends.
William Fernando is turning 6 next month. He only just enrolled at the start of last year. You may remember his powerful story from our July newsletter. He loved to play with his friends and participate in all activities, in the Center and at home.
Angie Ramos is 5 1/2 years old. She was enrolled in the Center when she was just two years old, thus receiving an exceptional early education here for a total of 3 years. She is a responsible student who loves to talk and socialize.
Carlos Javier is 5 years old. He also attended the Center for two years experiencing a mix of in-person and at-home learning. He is a very loving and sociable student. We’re confident that he is prepared to start his kindergarten year!
We will keep in touch with these friends to see how they are doing, and will offer some ongoing support if they need it during the pandemic. We’ve also enrolled four new children who are ready to receive supplies and instructional videos from our teachers. Xela is at alert level red so we will still not be able to offer in-person classes over the next few months, but our Center Director is working hard to keep up-to-date and to put everything in place so that we can safely reopen once it is allowed.