Students line up in gym class
The following is a postcard from Lydia Sorensen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Guatemala, about her recent visit to Niños de Guatemala.
Over the last four years the community in Ciudad Vieja has undergone a change. This largely agricultural community used to not place much importance on education, and thought nothing about pulling their children out of school after a few years to help work in the fields. It didn’t help that in Guatemala even the public schools cost money (uniforms, school supplies, transportation) and most families can’t afford even that (according to the World Bank 75% of Guatemalans live under the poverty line and 58% below the extreme poverty line). Today 213 children attend the Nuestro Futuro primary school, and many more are on the waiting list. By providing a truly free, high-quality education, and offering resources to the whole community, Niños de Guatemala (NDG) has been able to create a brighter future for the youngest generation.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing (Maribel, the school principal, describes how in the beginning they had trouble getting children to attend, partially because some parents were worried the school was going to kidnap their children), but this year they will have their first class of graduating sixth graders. Of the 33 families with graduating students, 27 have already expressed interest in having their child continue on to seventh grade—a huge success in a country where only about 46% of children even enroll in secondary school (let alone attend). When they do graduate (and I have faith all 33 will graduate at the end of the school year), they will have not only gained a solid primary education, they will know more about health and hygiene, have an understanding of basic finances, be better nourished, and their whole family will have received years of classes and assistance from social workers leading to less domestic violence and abuse.
As we drive down the volcano and the blue walls of the school fade into the dusty fields, it’s impossible not to think of what Guatemala would be like if more children were able to attend schools like Nuestro Futuro.
Brushing their teeth after lunch
Second graders in computer class
Playing in gym class