Educate 300 Guatemalan Children

by The GOD'S CHILD Project
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children
Educate 300 Guatemalan Children

As the closure of schools in Guatemala reaches and passes 18 months with no sign of opening any time soon, the children of Guatemala have suffered greatly due to COVID-19. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, as the vaccination programme is beginning for children over 12 years old with the aim of getting children back to school. As the school year ends in October, though, it is likely that schools will not open until early 2022.

One of our students currently waiting for the schools to reopen is 13-year-old Otilia, a student in the Etapas Programme in 2020. Otilia did not have the chance to study when she was younger and so is now catching up with us. In 2021 she is in 6th grade having almost caught up to her age group.

Otilia lives with her sister and mother in Vista Hermosa, right next to the Scheel Center School. Her mother is originally from Joyabaj, Quiché. Their native language is Quiché and it is sometimes difficult for Otilia and her family to express themselves in Spanish. Otilia has another sister who lives in Ciudad Vieja with her partner. This is quite far away from Jocotenango and so Otilia does not get to see her sister very often. Otilia’s father abandoned the family when she was a baby and has never been a part of her life.

The family’s house is made up of two small buildings. One is made from sheet metal and the other is a ‘Casa Azul’, a house built by the Project. Some wooden parts of their house have been burnt, however. The family uses a latrine because they do not have a bathroom in the house. They use firewood to cook their food and Otilia shares a bed with her sister. The house is on a steep slope and during the rainy season is at risk of landslides and flooding.

Otilia’s mother makes tortillas and watches parked cars in the streets of Antigua at night. She earns around Q320 ($40) a month. Otilia and her family do not always have enough money to be able to eat three times a day. Their mother takes any work she can to earn money to feed her children.

The Project has worked hard to support Otilia and her family. In addition to building her a house, Otilia’s mother regularly receives vegetables from our distribution to make sure that the children do not go hungry. Otilia has also received clothes and school supplies which she and her family could not afford to buy. This year we provided Otilia and her family with a new woodburning stove. The stove uses 50% less firewood meaning that the family can save money and use it for their other necessities.

Otilia has ambitions for the future and would like to be either an actor or a teacher when she graduates university. She would like to be a teacher because she likes to teach children to read or an actor who stars on television. She also wants to help her mother with the household costs and to provide a better life for her family.

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It has been more than a year since the Guatemalan government closed all schools as a precaution to fight COVID-19. In that past year it has been extremely tough for the children of Guatemala to continue their education from home, with many unable to access the resources they need to be able to study at home.

At the beginning of 2021 we made the difficult decision to keep our schools closed for the year.  We believed that restrictions on schools were not going to be lifted for a long time - something which has become apparent as we are six months into the year with no sign of opening anytime soon - and that our children’s needs would be better suited going to schools closer to home. There are many children in our schools who live a long way away from the school and found it difficult to access transport to come in to collect study guides last year. We haven’t abandoned our schoolchildren, however, as we have a scholarship programme to cover their school fees for this year.

Emiliano and his sister Angelina have studied at our Dreamer Center School for a number of years now. This year they are studying in a school closer to their home, meaning that they do not have to spend as much time outside their house and potentially at risk. Emiliano is in second grade and his older sister Angelina is in fourth grade. Both Emiliano and Angelina were hardworking students in the Dreamer Center and this has translated over to their new school where they are continuing to get good grades and complete their work to their own high standards.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it is easy for the children to complete their schoolwork. Much of their work needs the internet to access it, a luxury that most of our former students including Emiliano and Angelina can barely afford to have. Some schools have teachers sending instruction videos via WhatsApp which many of our children have no way of accessing, meaning that the schoolwork is completely beyond their grasp. It is also hard to work with no light or electricity, something that is very temperamental in Guatemala. With no light in the house the children cannot complete their work.

Nuestros Ahijados is working hard to make the lives of our students such as Emiliano and Angelina easier and to take away some of the stress of the pandemic from the family. Every two weeks Emiliano’s mother receives a large amount of fruits, vegetables and other foods such as pizza, sardines and flour to make tortillas. This not only helps to feed the family but also allows the money the family has saved to be used for other things such as internet access, photocopies and school supplies. We have also been giving a number of families solar-powered lamps so that in case of a blackout or light bill not being paid the families are still able to continue their learning. Emiliano’s mother told us that the lamp has been a lifesaver. Finally, through our sponsorship programme we were able to provide Emiliano and Angelina with some much-needed school supplies, as well as a colouring book for their younger sister so that she could take part in study sessions with her older siblings.

Even though our schools are closed this year we still consider the children and families to be a vital part of our project. That means we continue to work hard to ensure that they have what they need and get a fighting chance at success. The rest is up to them, and we are delighted that many children are like Emiliano and Angelina and are working hard to give themselves a better education and future.

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Jímena García and her older siblings Diana and Marcelo have been students of our Dreamer Center School for a number of years now. Last year Jímena was in second grade, her sister Diana in third grade and her brother in fourth grade. Jímena’s oldest brother, Ludwin, was also a student of our Dreamer Center School before moving up to the Scheel Center. The children’s mother is well-known at the school as well, having spent time working in the kitchen to help feed all the hungry schoolchildren.

 

The past year was extremely difficult for the García family, not only due to the pandemic which has damaged the lives of so many, but also for a number of tragedies that befell the family. However, the children never stopped working hard for their education, knowing that it is the only route they have to a better future.

 

In mid 2020 Jímena and her family were informed that they would be made homeless after they were told to leave the house and land that they had occupied for a number of years. This came as a complete shock to the family, as they had been model occupants. Jímena’s father immediately began to look for somewhere new to live, asking the local municipality for assistance to find a piece of land to build a new house on. The GOD'S Child Project also supported the family, providing them with food, clothes, and toys as well as their education whilst the family were searching.

 

Thankfully, the family were able to find a piece of land not too far away from their home and began building with the materials from their previous home. They were struck, however, by another tragedy when Jímena’s uncle was hospitalised after being robbed and attacked in the street. Once again the family’s life was put on hold as they nursed their uncle back to health.

 

Throughout all this time the children continued to work hard with their schoolwork, collecting the workbooks from the school and completing them to their usual high standard. Even when the world seemed to be pushing against them they persevered and ensured that they never missed a step with their education. The Project's social workers kept checking in on the family to make sure they were managing well. All the children successfully passed their classes and were able to move on to the next grade in 2021.

 

This year the family are in a much better situation. Our Dreamer and Scheel Center Schools are closed in 2021 due to the pandemic but The GOD’S CHILD Project is providing scholarships for every child who studied with us in 2020 so that they can continue to receive an education. The children are in their new schools and continuing to make good progress. We are continuing to support the whole family to make sure they are well, learning and happy.

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In November 2019, 6-year-old Jesus and his older brother Angel, 7, entered in to our Casa Jackson Hospital for Malnourished Children weighing 30 lbs. (13 kg) and 42 lbs. (19 kg) respectively. This was Jesus’s second time in Casa Jackson, and the first for Angel. They were both severely malnourished and at serious risk of long-term health problems. Their mother, Leidy, was doing her best to take care of them but did not have enough money to be able to buy the food the children desperately needed to survive.

 In January 2020, having successfully recovered from malnutrition, the two boys enrolled in our Dreamer Center School. Jesus was in our preschool class and Angel in first grade. The two boys were extremely excited to be able to begin their education, within eyeshot of the place where they had their lives saved from malnutrition.

 As of November 2019, Leidy has been a part of the Mother’s Club in the Project, and receives vegetables each week to help feed her children. The boys also receive two meals and a snack as part of their school day. This ensures that they are no longer at risk of malnutrition and can focus on learning, rather than on where their next meal is coming from.

 Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our two Schools are currently closed due to Governmental decree, but Angel and Jesus, like the other children in our schools, are receiving workbooks which they can do at home to make sure they do not fall behind. Jesus and Angel live with their mother, who is also a former student of ours, in Jocotenango, not too far from the school. Their house is made of sheet metal with an earth floor. Leidy makes tortillas and earns between Q30 and Q50 ($3-$6) a day.

 Jesus loves to play, especially with footballs. He also loves drawing and painting. Jesus likes to play with his big brother who he looks up to. When he grows up, Jesus would like to be a fireman because firemen are 'buenísimo!' (great!). This year in school Jesus wants to try really hard to listen to his teacher when she is talking.

 Angel loves to play, especially games where he can run around. He says that he has 'lots' of toys at his house to play with. Angel likes to play with his little brother who he takes care of when it is playtime. His favourite time in school is playtime and his goal this year is to be able to work as well as his classmates. When he grows up, Angel would like to be a police officer so that he can capture robbers.

Leidy tells us that the two boys are extremely impatient for school to start again so they can come back and see their teachers and friends. We want to keep providing them with the opportunity for a better future though education.

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When Sofía joined the preschool class in our Dreamer Center School in January 2020, she became the fourth child in the family to study there. Three of her older sisters were already studying at the school; Anelis in fourth grade, Terecita in second grade and Naomy in first grade.

 

The family had gone through hardship the year before. In early 2019 the girls’ mother had been diagnosed with cancer and within two months passed away. It was a huge shock to the whole family, as the illness affected their mother so rapidly. Their father, José, was left to look after six girls by himself, the youngest of whom was only a few months old. Matters were complicated even more when the oldest sister, Daniela, decided to go to Guatemala City and live with her aunts rather than having the responsibility of caring for her younger sisters.

 

This situation left the family in dire straits, as José had to find work in order to pay the rent and put food on the table. He was able to find a job working as a waiter in special events, although this means that he has to work long hours and the children are often left alone or with their grandmother. It is 12-year old Anelis who takes care of them in the house, cooking and cleaning as well as ensuring that their homework is done.

 

At the school we have taken measures to support the family during this time. We accepted in Sofía early so that she could have somewhere where she was well looked after during the day. We also changed our school hours for the family so that José could pick up the children and take them home rather than leaving them to walk by themselves. Through our sponsorship program in the Project we have found people who are supporting the family, including a sponsor who is looking into building a house for the children so that their father does not have to work as long to pay the rent.

 

The girls all enjoy being in the school where they have lots of friends and are making good progress. It is important for us to provide a safe and welcoming environment where the children feel confident and happy. We have a psychologist available to work with the children in the Project to make sure that they are mentally healthy as well as physically, and our staff regularly visit the family to make sure that they are safe and well.

 

All the girls have ambitions for the future. When Sofía grows up she would like to be a police officer, Naomy would like to be a decorator, Terecita would like to be a vet or a doctor, and Anelis (Jasmín) would like to be a teacher. We will continue to work hard to help those ambitions become a reality.

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Organization Information

The GOD'S CHILD Project

Location: Bismarck, ND - USA
Website:
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Project Leader:
RINA LAZO
Director of Benefactor Services
Antigua, Sacatepequez Guatemala
$4,630 raised of $25,000 goal
 
119 donations
$20,370 to go
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