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Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool

by Mayan Families
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Building a Home for the San Antonio Preschool
Gracias from San Antonio Preschool Class of 2017!
Gracias from San Antonio Preschool Class of 2017!

Over a year ago, the mission to provide a permanent and spacious building for the preschoolers in San Antonio began. Thanks to you, we finally have the funds to make this project a reality!

This morning we surprised the teachers and students in the preschool with the good news. We were met with shouts and bright smiles from the young students, and gratitude and excitement from the teachers.

“I never imagined that this day would come. We always had hope, but now we can truly be happy,” says Gricelda, a teacher who has been with the San Antonio preschoolers since 2010.

Gricelda remembers the situation long before the project started, when the preschool was on rented property.

“It is difficult to rent in San Antonio. From one month to another we sometimes moved to different locations. The children, being very young, sometimes understood what was happening, and sometimes they didn’t. Many times the families would become annoyed by the constant moving. With the permanent land and building that Mayan Families has, even though I know it isn’t my house, [the preschool now] feels like my home.”

Another teacher, Lety, said, “I am very happy today. It has been a while now that we have been anxiously waiting on an expansion. It is very difficult to do activities with the children due to the little space we have. The kids deserve better, and the inadequate space makes it difficult for them to play. We have teach different subjects and we will have the space to do activities like puzzles or legos in one area and language skills in another.”

For the future generations of San Antonio, Lety said the impact will be huge. “Many families in need have not been able to use the preschool due to lack of space, but now we can have more teachers and more students.”

“I have been with the preschoolers for three years now, and I am happy that we are at the point of finally achieving our dream,” Lety said.

The new generation of San Antonio
The new generation of San Antonio

Back to school! The time of year is full of excitement, new beginnings, and probably a bit of trepidation. A range of emotions were on display on the first day of school at the San Antonio Preschool Nutrition Center.  Many students were happily chattering away and building block towers, faces smeared with spaghetti from their mid day meal. However, some of the first year students were having a harder time.

It’s their first day away from home,” explained Señora Lety, the second year teacher. “It is always like this the first few days.” She was holding the hands of two tearful little ones that had wandered over from the first year classroom.

Without proper walls between the classrooms, entrance, and kitchen, this sort of interruption is a common occurrence. 

The noise and distraction makes teaching the other preschoolers nearly impossible. Still, Señora Lety and Señora Griscelda, the first year teacher, calmly persevere. They will fill the days with lesson plans aimed at preparing students for kindergarten and improving their spanish skills.

“When they first come to school some only speak Kaqchikel. We speak to them in Kaqchikel for the first month while they get used to [school], and then we only speak Spanish,” explained Señora Lety.

The cook, Sylvia, also had children underfoot in the kitchen as she washed the dishes from the students snack. At the preschool, the students get a healthy meal and a snack daily, and are regularly weighed and measured as a part of the nutrition program.

“Today the children already had their meal: spaghetti. Tomorrow they will eat pepian (traditional Guatemalan sauce) with chicken,” explained Sylvia, the cook.

We are waiting for the final funds to be able to complete construction of the second level. Then, our first year students can move upstairs into proper classrooms and have all the space they need for a full year of learning and growing.

San Antonio graduates
San Antonio graduates

For the tiny scholars at the San Antonio Preschool Nutrition Center, the holiday season starts with a big event- their graduation!

On November 22nd, 33 graduating preschoolers donned caps and gowns and received their diplomas. “We are very proud of the San Antonio students,” beams Sandra, Director of Education at Mayan Families. “Education provides students with the opportunity for personal development and a better future for their families.”

Graduating students will continue celebrations on December 13th at the annual San Antonio Christmas party, held at the preschool. The rest of the community will join them for games, refreshments and music. In typical Guatemalan fashion, a clown will provide entertainment!

The graduating students will be moving on to first grade in January, and a new class will enter the doors of the San Antonio Preschool Nutrition Center. In 2017 we want to move students out of the temporary basement space into real classrooms.  Currently, classes are held in cramped, dark quarters with no room for activities. The second floor rooms will be more conducive to learning, with proper classrooms, library, and attached kitchen for nutritious meals and snacks. Thanks to you, these students are close to getting what they deserve: room to grow and learn together!

From the San Antonio community and all of us at Mayan Families, thank you for your incredible support of these little students. This holiday season, please share this campaign with friends and family, and give the children of San Antonio the gift of a new school!

A San Antonio preschooler hard at work
A San Antonio preschooler hard at work
San Antonio students entering their school
San Antonio students entering their school
Gricelda speaking to Education Manager Amy Porter
Gricelda speaking to Education Manager Amy Porter

Exciting news from San Antonio Palopó: a re-vamped recess and a special opportunity to make your support go twice as far! Every kid deserves an education, adequate nutrition, and time to play. In San Antonio Palopó, indigenous Guatemalan children are often forced to abandon school and get their first job before the age of 11.

It’s time we let kids do what they do best: learn, eat well, play, and grow up to be change-makers for their community. But we can’t do that without you. Sign up for a recurring donation during the next seven days- the 21st through the 27th - and GlobalGiving will double the first installment!

Mayan Families Preschool Teacher Gricelda del Rosario Pérez Pérez, who grew up in San Antonio Palopó, overcame many of the same struggles that her students now face. By the time she was seven years old, Gricelda already had the responsibilities of an adult. She earned money any way she could: making and selling bracelets, working in a Coca-Cola warehouse, and using a backstrap loom to weave traje (traditional indigenous clothing). The long hours that she worked meant that she and her brother had to study late into the night. “Sometimes we didn’t sleep,” she says, “but that’s just life!”

Now a teacher at the San Antonio Preschool Nutrition Center, Gricelda has seen the school move through two temporary buildings before we acquired the land to construct our own building. Funds so far have only provided for the first floor. Though sturdy and well-made, the cramped space means the students can’t move from their seats. Gricelda explains that “they couldn’t play here even though we have toys, cars… it was difficult. We had to give them their snack in their seats for recess!”

Mayan Families knew that this arrangement was unfair to the students, depriving them of chance to learn and socialize outside the classroom. We partnered with Reviver Bridges to build the children a new playground! Now at recess every day, the children express themselves to the fullest in the outdoor play area while they wait for the money to build new classrooms.

Gricelda has high hopes for the futures of the children in her classroom: “My greatest wish is that they have professional careers, that they can become lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects, have college degrees, a car, a house with maybe two or three levels! That there will be more jobs created here in the town, and there will no longer be poverty here in San Antonio.”

Contribute to her vision of a better, brighter future for these indigenous children. And what better time to start than this week? Double your first month’s donation when you sign up for a recurring payment from now until September 27th!

Gricelda Standing with the Preschool
Gricelda Standing with the Preschool's Teachers
The San Antonio Preschoolers in Their Classroom
The San Antonio Preschoolers in Their Classroom
Preschoolers Enjoying the New Playground
Preschoolers Enjoying the New Playground
Students Outside the Preschool Nutrition Center
Students Outside the Preschool Nutrition Center
Students at the Preschool Nutrition Center
Students at the Preschool Nutrition Center

We want to extend a very special thank you to all of you who helped make last week’s Bonus Day such a success! Out of the 3,000+ campaigns that participated last week, your support propelled the San Antonio Preschool Nutrition Center into the Top 10 most successful projects. The momentum is building for the children of San Antonio, and we are incredibly grateful to each of you for being a part of such an amazing day!

What’s next? We are so close to funding the construction of the next two classrooms, and we need your help to get there. We are excited to announce that from Monday June 27th to Friday July 1st, GlobalGiving will DOUBLE the first installment of a recurring donation! Signing up for a recurring donation of $10 or $25 a month could never be more important: we ask that you stand with the San Antonio preschoolers to make their Preschool Nutrition Center a reality!

But don’t let us tell you why this is important, here is a story from Magdalena and her daughter Rosa:

Magdalena* follows her daughter Rosa* up the steep hill to their house in San Antonio, laughing at Rosa’s enthusiasm and energy, which has increased ever since she entered preschool the year before.

Rosa and her mother’s situation is not markedly different from many families in the community. As Magdalena puts it, “Some days there is food, some days there is not. When there is breakfast, we have breakfast. But many times, we do not.”

Rosa’s father’s drinking problem has gotten so bad that does not come home anymore, let alone work to help Magdalena support the family. Rosa’s three oldest siblings, aged 14, 17, and  20, have all had to drop out of school to find work as day laborers.

Recently, despite the difficulties of providing for her children, the future has begun to look brighter for Magdalena. Unlike the three oldest siblings, Rosa and her brother José are attending the new San Antonio Preschool Nutrition Center. With her youngest children at school in the mornings, Magdalena has more time to make a living for the family, and with the daily nutrition provided at the preschool, she doesn’t have to worry about them going hungry during the day.

The bilingual education that both Rosa and José receive at the preschool also gives Magdalena hope for their future. Magdalena understands the disadvantage of entering primary without an introduction to the Spanish language. “I left school because I did not understand. And because I was afraid,” said Magdalena, who only speaks her indigenous language Kaq’chikel. “Here [in San Antonio] without Spanish, there is no work. We cannot even speak to the doctor. I don’t want my children to suffer like this, like I have.”

“My wish is for [Rosa and José] to study because my other children and I could not. My greatest wish is that they will study through secondary and have good professions.”

Entering into Guatemala’s lengthy rainy season, Magdalena and her family still face many obstacles. “When the rains come, it is very difficult,” she describes, referencing the makeshift tin walls and roof of her home, “Sometimes I cry a lot.” But despite these intense difficulties, Magdalena is fiercely determined about her children’s right to a better future. “I want them to have what they want [in life]. To be able to eat what they want one day, when they want. To be able to work, to marry. I don’t want this life for them.”

What can you do?

To provide children like Rosa and José with the opportunity for education and daily nourishment, our Preschool Nutrition Center in San Antonio desperately needs to build classrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms and a library. Please consider signing up for a recurring donation of $10 or $25 to keep the momentum building! If you sign up for a recurring donation next week - June 27th to July 1st- GlobalGiving will DOUBLE the initial donation! Stand up for Magdalena and Rosa, and join us to bring lasting change to San Antonio.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the family.

Magdalena and Rosa in front of the family
Magdalena and Rosa in front of the family's home
Jose and Rosa go to the Preschool Nutrition Center
Jose and Rosa go to the Preschool Nutrition Center
Magdalena
Magdalena's house
"My wish is for Rosa and Jose to study" -Magdalena
"My wish is for Rosa and Jose to study" -Magdalena
 

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Organization Information

Mayan Families

Location: San Diego, California - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @mayanfamilies
Project Leader:
Glen Thesslin
San Diego, California United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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