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Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids

by Asociacion Caras Alegres
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Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Continue Guatemalan afterschool project - 60 kids
Juliet Guadelupe, 6 years old.
Juliet Guadelupe, 6 years old.

Juliet Guadelupe is one of the newest girls in our programme. She started coming here at the beginning of this year. A shy but happy girl who barely have missed an afternoon of our programme. Recently, she additionally was enrolled in our Lunchroom where she now shows up from Monday to Thursday to eat lunch with the rest of the 53 children that attend the lunchroom. One of her favourite things to do here is to skip a rope together with her friends during the free games and in the lunchroom, her favourite food is chorizo and vegetables. During the 10 months she´s been attending our programme she has shaken off some of her shyness and it is easier for her to play with new friends.

Another effort that we have enhanced this year is related to our scholarship programme. We are now doing more to obtain scholarships for the children that graduate from primary school so more will continue studying in secondary school. Juan Carlos, 14, is one of the kids that has already found a sponsor. According to him, the scholarship is a huge help. Juan Carlos is not at all sure that he would have been able to continue studying after he finishes primary school in a couple of weeks. He´s very thankful for the opportunity that his sponsor will be giving him. Juan Carlos´ dream is to keep studying until he graduates from the university as a proud and professional architect.  

 

In the end of October, the children graduated from the respective grades and have now started the two months of vacations they have ahead of them. As anticipated, now the children are out of school, the number of participants in our afternoon programme has increased slightly, and we expect it to continue increasing the rest of the year. Furthermore, there are some specific activities we usually do during vacation time and we hope to be able to execute these activities this year as well. These include a Christmas lunch, a special activity with the oldest children that graduate from sixth grade and bingo day for all our participants.   

Lately, we have been working closely with a group of MA students in graphic design from a local university. They are helping us in improving our PR material and have been planning and elaborating material for a new promotion campaign. We are very eager to see the fruits of this collaboration and have found it very beneficial to engage in collaborations with groups of university students in order to benefit from their expert knowledge and abilities while also providing local students with real cases and a higher purpose with their studies.  

Caras Alegres has been running well this year. We have been trying out new activities both by ourselves and in collaboration with other entities; NGO´s, universities, more national volunteers and so on. It has been a busy year, but also a year that has represented growth for our organisation. We have decided to rethink our fundraising strategies because the more we grow and expand our activities, the more funding we need. For this reason, we have decided to deactivate our GlobalGiving fundraiser and reorganise our fundraising efforts. This, however, requires some time to develop a strategy. In the future, we hope to continue a good collaboration with GlobalGiving, but for now, we will take a step back. To both donators and the GG team, thank you for your support.

Juan Carlos, 14, future architect in the making!
Juan Carlos, 14, future architect in the making!
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Recently, we had a visit from cookery students at the INTECAP college in Quetzaltenango who planned and cooked nutritious meals and a sweet treat for our children in the Lunchroom programme. This programme offers food to around fifty children, four days a week and all cooked by our cook and assistant cook whom are both mothers from the community. Over the two days, both the children here at Caras Alegres and the students thoroughly enjoyed themselves and even had time for a game of football afterwards! Thank you to Manuel and his students

 

We have also been weighing and measuring the children to see the effects of our Lunchroom programme but also to understand the physicality of the children who attend our afternoon programme as well. It will be interesting and hopefully exciting to see the change in weight and height over time and the extent to which our programme is having its intended aim. Many of them at present are underweight for their age and we will do everything we can to change this and to help reduce the malnutrition of these children. Guatemala as a country has high levels of malnutrition, placing at number six for worldwide levels of chronic malnutrition which clearly shows why we took the opportunity to improve levels of nutrition within our own community.

 

This leads to our success story of Judith, an eleven-year-old girl attending our programme, who just last month was delighted at having put on eight pounds since the inception of the Lunchroom programme in January! She came running into the office with the excellent news, straight from having been weighed the health clinic and we were just as happy as she was. We hope that by having higher levels of nutrition, the children are able to concentrate more and therefore perform better academically. For us, it is really important and rewarding to see the effects of our good work and we can’t wait to hear other similar stories in the near future.

  

Our women’s literacy programme is also a new initiative to begin this year and so far, it has been very effective where in a community there a high number of illiterate women compared to men. The programme runs just like all our other programmes, Monday to Thursday but instead, it operates in the evenings and is run by a social worker. There are fourteen regular attendees of the programme, eleven of whom are mothers to children attending Caras Alegres Tarde. We are very grateful to be increasing our number of direct beneficiaries from this community.

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Happy girls :)
Happy girls :)

Since the last report where many new things had just been implemented, Caras Alegres has spent the last months strengthening the routine of our daily work. The Lunchroom is now up and running as if the project has been going on for much longer, and moreover, we start to see the children who attend this specific part of our program, gain weight and generally look healthier. It will be very interesting to see the changes measured and quantified in our halfway evaluation in a couple of months. Furthermore, currently we are raising funds for some equipment needed in the kitchen. We want to be able to store our food supplies properly, and for this, we need a bigger refrigerator and a freezer.

Another new initiative in Caras Alegres is the expansion of our sponsorship program. We believe that there are some strong advantages sponsoring a child through us than through some of the bigger organisations that manage sponsorships as well, and lately our focus on these benefits have helped us establishing some scholarships for secondary school children that otherwise very likely would not keep studying after graduating from primary school. This is a huge win for us because it helps us maintain contact with some of the older children while also allowing them to keep studying. New PR material and structuring the sponsorship options within the framework of the global SDG´s have been relevant factors for this positive change.

As always, we do diverse activities with the children during the afternoons. An increased focus from the administrative side on structuring and establishing our formal M&E plan for the program has made us ask the children about their opinions on Caras Alegres and the activities they do while spending their afternoons with us. It is very clear to us that the different handicrafts, where the children get to use different materials, create, and manufacture products they can bring home and show their families, are activities that the children much enjoy. We still do weeklong workshops with the children once a month where they get to put more effort into the chosen handicraft project. They really like having the time and opportunity to dive further into the creation of a specific object and it is great to see how proud they are when they finish a workshop like this.

Finally, we want to present you to four children. They are siblings between 5 and 13 years old. All four of them attend our programs, both the Lunchroom and the regular afternoon program. Little sister is always among the first three children that arrive every day around noon. She´s a little artist that absolutely loves drawing and painting and she tells us about the drawing tips her mother teaches her at home. Big brother is attending last year of primary school. During a couple of months he was very worried about next year because he´s parents had told him that they don´t have the money to send him in secondary school next year. However, his maturity and intelligence have now secured him a scholarship for the next three years and he´s back to being the happy kid that does not worry about having to leave school and start working full time. The two brothers in between are two cheerful kids. The biggest of them says he likes everything he does when being in Caras Alegres while the energetic little brother practically spends every free moment on a bicycle.

Thank you for all support!

Proud of the result of a workshop - a fox bag :)
Proud of the result of a workshop - a fox bag :)
Kids proudly showing the result of workshop :)
Kids proudly showing the result of workshop :)
The four siblings mentioned above
The four siblings mentioned above
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First day of the afternoon program this year :)
First day of the afternoon program this year :)

After the holidays, we started up our afternoon program Monday 15 January. It is great to have the children back, and they make it clear to us every day that they love being back as well. The year 2018 is a year that in our organisation represents big changes, both internally in the personnel but also in our activities. The basis is the same; the afterschool program keeps functioning as before, however; where we earlier had an average attendance on around 55 children a day, it is now rare if less than 70 boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 14 show up. This is positive! We take it as a sign of contentment and satisfaction with the activities that we offer and carry out. Also, it increases the impact we have in the community where we work. For this reason, we have contracted an assistant: His name is Daniel Pac. He is a psychology student at the San Carlos University and last year he did his internship with us and later he stuck around as a volunteer. The children love having him around and he fits perfectly into our team. 

One of the other changes that Caras Alegres recently has implemented is an extension to our afterschool program; a Community Lunch Room. It opened 22 January and the structure is as follows: From Monday to Thursday, 52 of the children also enrolled in our afternoon program, come and eat a nutritious lunch cooked by our newly contracted cooks; two women from our community, both with children that attend the program. They serve typical Guatemalan dishes, but with some moderations in order to increase the nutrition value. During the year, as part of the same project, we will organise some parent training in nutrition as well. The children eat during two rounds. First, the small children from prepa to 2nd grade, while the bigger children do homework. After the smallest children have eaten, they switch places and go do their homework while the bigger children eat. After 2 weeks of functioning, we can already tell that it is functioning smoothly and we are getting into a routine. This project is financed with a donation of larger scale that we received last year, and we decided to prioritise this project over other ideas mainly because of the high levels of malnutrition in our community. As part of the same project we will be facilitating 3 parent workshops during the year in order to increase their knowledge about nutrition as well. 

Finally, the administrative team is undergoing some changes. Allan stays as General Director, but Irma has just finished her work here. After more than 4 years, she is leaving Caras Alegres and Guatemala in order to move back to her home country, The Netherlands. She has done amazing work here, and there is no doubt she will be missed. However, every ending is also a new beginning: Jenna Pohjonen (Finland) is our new Program and Volunteer Director, and she is taking over for Irma. Jenna started just before Christmas, and Irma has thoroughly trained both Jenna and our newly contracted Development Director. Her name is Randi Kallestrup (Denmark), and her working area is mainly with donor contact, fundraising, sponsorships and external partnerships. This last position is new in our association and we have great hopes that it will result in increased sustainability and less pressure on the Program and Volunteer Director and the General Director.  

 

A group of children having their lunch
A group of children having their lunch
Full and satisfied after a nutritious meal :)
Full and satisfied after a nutritious meal :)
Friendships are blooming in our afternoon program!
Friendships are blooming in our afternoon program!

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Since half October, all of the children are on summer holidays. Which means a more constant group of children take part in our afterschool project. Also older children, that are not supposed to come to our afterschool project anymore, enjoy the afternoons. Most of those 16 and 17 year old young adults help the teachers out during the activities. They really enjoy being part of the organization, but don´t want to take part in all the activities. A great way of receiving extra help and keeping even the young adults from the streets!

Unfortunately we were not able to organize any field trips, such as a day to the pool or the zoo, this year.  Any support for this kind of activity is more than welcome. We might be able to do something extra in January or February.
But we are very thankfull for the fact we are still able to keep working with the children during 4 afternoons every week. With national and international help we will be able to keep the children from the street and educate them through our activities. It´s very rewarding to see the change: Children on their first day in the program or after they have been participating for 3 months. They are able to show their emotions, better motoric skills and share things with their friends. 

Thank you very much for making this possible.

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Organization Information

Asociacion Caras Alegres

Location: Quetzaltenango - Guatemala
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Randi Kallestrup
Development Director
Quetzaltenango, Quetzaltenango Guatemala

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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