Sep 22, 2020

Facing the coronavirus in Guatemala

Omar Mejia, Acorn Childcare Center Director
Omar Mejia, Acorn Childcare Center Director

For more than 6 months, Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the health and economic situation of people in Guatemala. Many families are wrestling with grief. No one was prepared to face this pandemic. The Guatemalan government has not been able to respond to the demand for public health services. Hospitals collapsed within the first couple of months, leaving no support for people struggling to recover.

The country has partially re-opened, but without a contingency plan. Many families have decided to start small businesses or to sell products in different areas of their town in order to have some income. They are risking their health and that of their family because there is no support from our government and hunger does not wait, rent does not wait, the need for heat and light does not wait.

Children miss their friends and teachers. They miss play spaces and reliable meals.

All of our CIB staff have been doing their part to continue providing support to our children, in a different but effective way.

We have had to adapt to a new system — preparing educational materials to be used at home, designing classes to be delivered by video — all with the hope of reducing the negative impact on the emotional well-being and educational development of children.

Virtual classes have become a highly anticipated activity for children at home. They are an indispensable resource for parents as they continue inspiring their children’s learning. Parents have become much more involved in their children's education, working day by day, hand in hand with their children. We deliver all the educational resources they need, and provide a budget for food to each family.  Our cook explains two recipes each week, helping parents to cook healthy food at home on a budget.

We have given health kits to each family to increase their defenses with various health essentials, vitamin C and ibuprofen. As the weeks go by, we realize it is likely that most will have to face the virus with their families, so we are planning next to prepare kits that contain the medicine needed to manage the symptoms of Covid-19.

As the director of our Center, I have already had to face the virus and its consequences on my physical and mental health. I am grateful for the way this helped me to fully understand the urgency of supporting those most in need, especially during such a difficult time for humanity. In my experience, the physical part of fighting the disease was very difficult but the emotional toll of facing it in isolation was also very difficult. That is why I firmly believe that it is essential that we continue to support our families, who are struggling without their stable jobs. It is essential that we offer education through virtual classes and activities, because children's development does not stop, and it is essential that our staff continues to be alert and available to support any need these families may have.

This pandemic is very real in its negative impact on local families. With your help,  we are able to continue our work to mitigate that impact and to bring hope during this difficult time. Thank you.

May 27, 2020

Update on life in quarantine

You may remember Fernando-André, who started at the Acorn Childcare Center in January. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Guatemala, his mother Cinthia lost her job selling educational resources. She and Fernando moved in with her grandmother for the lock-down, because the house where they lived before was very crowded. Her grandmother was also without work or income due to the pandemic, and so they were soon unable to pay the rent and lost their home. Fortunately, her grandmother secured work as a caretaker for a school. She is not paid, but they can live there in return for cleaning and caring for the building. Cinthia has finally found work at a restaurant, helping to co-ordinate and deliver food to people at home. She is paid less than the minimum wage, but any income is better than nothing.

 The economic impact of the pandemic in Guatemala has been devastating. In the streets near the Acorn Childcare Center people hold white flags to show that they are hungry and in need of food. There is so little work available that many people are left with no alternative but to beg in the streets. Government aid does not seem to be reaching the people that need it most. 

Fernando misses his friends at the Acorn Childcare Center, and the comfort of a caring place with regular wholesome meals, but the resources provided by the Center and the daily videos give him something to hold onto. Every morning he asks, “What activity am I going to do with my teachers today?”. The food allowance from the Center has helped him to stay healthy and the connection she has with the Center gives Cinthia hope for their future. She is deeply grateful. We want to sincerely thank you for your part in sustaining families like Fernando’s through such difficult times.

Jan 28, 2020

Meet Fernando Andre, one of our new students at The Acorn Childcare Center!

A new year has started at the Acorn Childcare Center. We are welcoming back some familiar faces from last year and are helping some new children to feel part of this caring community.

One of these children is Fernando, who turns three next month.   He lives with his mother and 5 other relatives in a small rented house, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from the Center. Their community is very rural so they have to walk quite a bit before they can access public transport. Fernando’s mother, Cinthia, became pregnant when she was 16 years old before she had finished high school. Her boyfriend left when he learned that she was pregnant, so Fernando has never had any relationship with his father.

With the help of her grandmother, Cinthia finished high school and graduated from the public college with a teaching degree for preschool. Although it is her dream to work as a teacher, it has been hard to find work locally and she found a job selling school supplies. She works 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, so she has very little time to share with her son. 

Cinthia applied to the Center because of recommendations from families of former students. She urgently needs childcare while she works long hours and she is very excited to have this opportunity for her son to get a good start on his education. 

From his first day, Fernando adapted very easily to the routines at the Center. He behaves very well and is very happy because he has found new friends and enjoys having so many activities that are appropriate for his age and interests. Cinthia and her grandmother, who brings him to and from the Center every day, are very happy and filled with hope for his future. 

Because of your generosity we are able to give young students like Fernando André a better start despite their economic and family difficulties. Thank you!

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