Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala

by The Education for the Children Foundation (EFTC)
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Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala
Help Feed and Support 650 Students in Guatemala

These past 6 months have been filled with exciting changes here at the School of Hope. We opened our doors in late January and had in-person classes for the first time in nearly two years. This is a huge success that we have been working towards for a long time. Being fully in-person once again has allowed us to better serve our students by providing them with two meals a day, better access to psychological care, as well as many more benefits. 

Though our teachers worked as hard as possible to make distance learning tenable over the last two years, it was a difficult situation for our students who do not typically have consistent access to technology and the internet at their homes. The school attempted to cover this gap with tablets and internet packages but even this could not fully compensate for the additional distractions our students faced while receiving school in their homes. It is common for our students to live in multiple family homes where they do not have the space to focus on schoolwork and often cannot avoid household responsibilities and pressure to work to support their families. 

Therefore, returning to school has provided our most vulnerable students with the opportunity to have a space in which they can focus on learning. During our first trimester back at the school we completed academic testing to determine how the pandemic had affected the students' learning and made specific plans to overcome these shortcomings. For example, we are starting our Saturday school program to specifically help 70 students who are behind in reading, writing, and math. Additionally, as most schools in the area are not open, we are offering space at School of Hope to our scholarship students where they may receive their online classes and not be distracted.

Now that we are open we are also able to offer more health and psychosocial services. For example, since opening in January all staff has received their booster during a vaccine drive at the school and 133 of our students at School of Hope have received their first and second vaccine dose. Last week we also had hearing tests for all students and interested teachers and next month will start mental health screenings. Being in-person has allowed us to more easily provide holistic care to our students.

Last week, our Project Director, Sara Miller, went to NYC to host a fundraising event with our longtime supporter, Emily Torre. The event was a sucess and raised $5,614.89. Sara will be flying to Wyoming and having another fundraising event May 4th. Additionally, we are already preparing for our 20th anniverserary celebration of the foundation in Guatemala next July. Our Outreach team has been recording a podcast that will drop next month on Spotify to introduce our followers to the people who make EFTC possible.  Though we still have a long way to go we are proud of how much we have done having only been open for 4 months. 

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These last months have been filled with activities at our school, The School of Hope, in Guatemala!

Since our last report we have finished our 2021 school year! So much has changed here at EFTC but what has not is the energy and enthusiasm of our teachers and students. The end of this academic year has been tough but our students have persevered and we implemented a number of different additional programs to support them in this. Such as specialised "Bootcamps" for our Junior High students to catch them up as they have sent a majority of this year learning from home.The students attended these classes for 4 to 6 weeks. Many of the students who took part in this program were able to catch up and graduate at the end of the year!

We also implemented specialised project based exams for all of our students from Kindergarten to 9th grade. Students were able to come into the school and complete these exams in person (individually) so our teachers could fully assess learning areas where students have grasped the concept and what we will need to reinforce in 2022. This information will help us support studente better as we prepare to open the school on January 31st 2022!

In regards to social services, all of our students received food hampers up until the end of the school year as well as Christmas presents from their sponsors and the local community. In December their food hampers were filled with chocolates, dried fruit for the traditional ponche drink, marshmallow and other treats to make their holidays special. As for health, our youngest students received a hearing screening at the end of the year to check for any auditory problems that may have gone undetected with students learning from home.   We also weighed and measured all of our students to check in on their development and prepare our 2022 nutrition program to meet their needs. 

Last but not least, in November we celebrated our 6th and 9th grade graduates with 51 students graduating from 6th grade and 30 from 9th grade. We also celebrated an amazing 5 university and 13 high school graduates.  We are so proud of the perseverance and dedication they showed this year, graduating despite all of the many challenges they faced. We can't wait to see what they do next. 

Happy New Year from EFTC, we can't wait to see what 2022 holds for our students. We are sure it will be filled with exciting goals, big challenges, and the same resolve to succeed against all odds that we have seen year after year! All of this is only possible due to your continued support! Without you believing in, loving, and cheering these students on, none of this would be possible. A BIG thank you to each and everyone of you!

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First day of classes!
First day of classes!

We are wrapping up our second unit at The School of Hope! Students have finished all of their projects and work, sat for their exams and now are awaiting their grades from their teachers!

The most exciting part about this end of the unit? That a majority of this work was done IN-PERSON by our students as they returned to school. At the end of May we received permission from the Ministry of Education to reopen in a covid-safe way. Meaning a hybrid model, small rotating groups, students in "pods" so if there is a case they can quarantine easily and lots of out door learning, all with masks and improved health measures!

This permission did not come easily and Nancy, our Technical Director in the Education Team, worked on this paperwork and process for almost a year. This permission does not mean we will remain open permanently, we will have to adapt our model between fully virtual, or phase 1 or 2 of hybrid depending on the number of cases in our local community. Our first priority is always keeping everyone safe! But it means that we have a bit more certainty moving forwards and that we will see our students much more! We will begin to see the educational, emotional and health impact of Covid on our students. We are ready to adapt our services to make sure they can continue to study and catch up the time they have lost to reach their goals.

Students returning to in-person learning does not mean all of our hard work behind the scenes is done, in fact we have also recently embarked on another project ...during the process of applying for permission to reopen Nancy´s persistence & resilience impressed MINEDUC (Ministry of Education) and MSPAS (Ministry of Health). So much so that we have been nominated to apply for Excellence Accreditation. This is a lengthy process and few schools in Guatemala have yet been nominated or selected for this, we are excited to be in this process!

There are so many developments to be excited about here at EFTC and The School of Hope however, by far the most rewarding development has been having our students return. This time of learning at a distance has been hard for all, for teachers and students alike. We will not yet know the full impact it has had. Even our older students who have been fully connected in live virtual classes through tablets and internet funded by EFCT have missed out on seeing their friends and many other developmental activities.

By far those we were the most excited to see return to the school were our youngest students in Kindergarten. They enrolled with us during a pandemic and have never been able to come to a class here. Seeing their eyes wide with wonder as they saw the spaces they could learn in and met their teachers made it all worth it.

 

We could not have gotten here without you. This has never been more true than now as we are fighting to stay connected to our students, to help them catch up and to make sure that their education and their futures are not another casualty of covid-19. We cannot wait to share our students' exam results with you all! We will include this in our next update but if you would like to be kept even more in the loop follow the links in this report to see our social media where we share daily updates and photos of students studying hard!

Kindergarten students at school for the FIRST TIME
Kindergarten students at school for the FIRST TIME
Nancy holding our permission to open the school!
Nancy holding our permission to open the school!

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Our Socially-Distanced, COVID-Safe Bowery Roofs!
Our Socially-Distanced, COVID-Safe Bowery Roofs!

The School of Hope in Guatemala continues to be successful even with the challenges that COVID-19 continues to present. Our teachers and support staff at the school have worked hard to provide our students with worksheet packets and online support (when possible) to ensure our students at the school as well as our scholarship students are making good progress in their educations. 

We have also continued the hard work of making sure that our students and their families are supported at home with food, cleaning supplies, psychological support and medical care as they need it. This has been time-consuming and expensive, but it has also been incredibly rewarding for the staff and families. If there is a silver lining apparent in the pandemic, it might just be the way the sense of community among our families and staff as deepened and stregthened over the last year. I sincerely hope you feel and understand what an important part of our community you are as a donor and supporter - everything we are able to do for our students in Guatemala is because of you and your support. 

One of the most exciting recent developments at The School of Hope is the completion of various bowery-like roofs that we constructed in the school's courtyards. These bowrys will allow us to hold classes outside, meaning we'll be able to bring more students back to the school in the near future.  Rain or shine, our students will be able to attend classes with their teachers and classmates in a safe, socially-distanced way.  We are proud of the work the school staff did to get these boweries constructed and painted, and can't wait to see our students together again with their teachers, working hard on their lessons!

Again, let me close with thanking you for all of your continued support. We are able to do what we do because you do what you do. Thank you for being a part of the EFTC family, and never hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, or suggestions. 

Our Socially-Distanced, COVID-Safe Bowery Roofs!
Our Socially-Distanced, COVID-Safe Bowery Roofs!
Our Socially-Distanced, COVID-Safe Bowery Roofs!
Our Socially-Distanced, COVID-Safe Bowery Roofs!

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Supplies and Lessons Ready for Our Students!
Supplies and Lessons Ready for Our Students!

Greetings from Education for the Children and the School of Hope in Jocotenango, Guatemala! All of us hope you are safe and healthy, and that you're looking forward to a unique but special holiday season. 

At the School of Hope in Guatemala, our team continues to work hard to support our students and their families during what are, needless to say, challenging circumstances.  It is because of you and your generosity that the team has been able to continue delivering necessary food and cleaning supplies to the homes of our students. Because the vast majority of the economy in Guatemala is informal, most of our students' families have been unable to earn their livelihoods as they used to do as day laborers, street vendors, and other similar "informal" workers due to coronavirus restrictions.  Like most of the rest of the world, Guatemalans have been working hard to figure out how to be successful, healthy, and safe while balancing their need to work and study. We are humbled and grateful that we have been able to be such a major force of support for our families as they do this - all thanks to your generosity. 

We are also looking forward to graduation during the last full week of November.  Our graduating 9th grade ("tercer básico) students have overcome major obstacles simply to make it to this point in their education; when we then consider the obstacles they have vanquished just during this past year, we couldn't be prouder of them! They have put in a decade's worth of hard work at the School of Hope, and didn't let a global pandemic, major economic downturn, or distance learning from home (often with weak, spotty, or non-existant Internet access) keep them from being successful. I hope you'll make sure to check out EFTC's social media posts over the next couple of weeks as we celebrate these inspiring and hardworking students!

Finally, let me update you on the school building itself. We've been able to open the school back up to staff and teachers, just at lower numbers than is typical for us. This means we have staff and teachers coming into the school on rotating schedules.  They're meeting with small numbers of students, having important meetings to plan the 2021 school year (no easy task with the uncertainty regarding the pandemic!), and ensuring the building itself is cleaned and cared for. We're currently putting together a major campaign to raise the funds to replace the roof of the building - a much-needed repair job that I hope you'll consider supporting when the time comes.

All of us at EFTC and the School of Hope want to thank you for your continued support and generosity. The work the team at the School does has been nothing short of miraculous this year, and despite the unique challenges we're currently facing, we're all optimistic and excited for the future of the School and our students!

So. Many. Eggs!
So. Many. Eggs!
School Lessons Ready for Our Students to Take Home
School Lessons Ready for Our Students to Take Home
Our Amazing Staff Enjoying Elote on Pickup Day
Our Amazing Staff Enjoying Elote on Pickup Day

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Organization Information

The Education for the Children Foundation (EFTC)

Location: Walnut Creek, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @eftcfoundation
Project Leader:
Brien Ashdown
Executive Director
Walnut Creek, CA United States
$44,619 raised of $95,000 goal
 
169 donations
$50,381 to go
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