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Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children
Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children

As the world adjusts to the changes the COVID 19 pandemic has brought, each place adapts according to its own realities. The first cases in Guatemala appeared in mid March, the national government quickly established measures like closing schools, prohibiting public bus transportation, shutting the borders, limiting businesses and shops, establishing a curfew. To ensure the safety and well being of Pueblo a Pueblo staff and the people we serve, we postponed all face-to-face meetings and trainings and started working remotely. 

All these measures have helped reduce the spread of cases, but have had great impact in daily life and economy. This has had a dramatic impact on the communities we serve,  leading to  widespread food insecurity as most people live day-to-day, are in the informal economy, and rely directly and indirectly on tourism. 

Since the schools shifted to remote classes, the school buildings have remain closed, but classes are still on-going so we continue to support the students that are receiving sponsorships. We have also been in touch with school principals and teachers to keep in touch and be aware of the current challenges as well as the upcoming needs. We have conducted trainings online, and done short videos to raise awareness on topics that are important in the communities we work in. 

Pueblo a Pueblo analyzed what the short and long term impacts to the communities we work with and we determined the most immediate are increased food insecurity, and loss of family incomes. These will cause even more impact long term on education, health and malnutrition. To reduce immediate food insecurity we set up donation drives, with help of some matching grants, to collect funds to distribute food baskets to prioritized families we serve. 

In the medium and long term we've started adapting our projects to the changing needs of the communities we work with so that our actions lead to more positive impact. As we continue to adapt, we will provide food baskets to people in the communities we serve. 

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Sponsored student Juana receives her new backpack
Sponsored student Juana receives her new backpack

Like many of our supporters around the world, you are probably participating in widespread social distancing efforts to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19, or the Coronavirus, in your community. As the virus spreads throughout Guatemala, Pueblo a Pueblo is doing the same.

In early January, all sponsored students visited our office to receive a backpack full of the supplies they need to succeed in school this year. However, after almost three successful months of classes, our partner schools were forced to cancel classes to comply with social distancing measures imposed by the Guatemalan government.

At Pueblo a Pueblo, we recognize our ability to protect our most vulnerable friends, neighbors, and family members through social distancing. By limiting our contact with others, especially in large group settings, we can ease the burden this virus is likely to place on our rural Guatemalan community.

As such, Pueblo a Pueblo has suspended all in-person meetings and educational sessions to minimize the risk of exposure to our partner communities and our own team. Our staff will work remotely until further notice.

In this time of crisis, we will continue to stand by the students we have committed to support. We will continue to provide access to subsidized healthcare for all beneficiaries of the Primary Education Scholarships project. As resources permit, we will also deliver food baskets to the families of those students most in need.

This pandemic has brought challenges to families and communities around the globe. It is already affecting Pueblo a Pueblo’s ability both to achieve our project goals and to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and beneficiaries.  

As we work to execute a swift and effective response, please consider making a donation to this project today. Thank you in advance for your generosity—the future of our support for students here on Lake Atitlán depends on it.

Concepcion and her mother receive a food basket
Concepcion and her mother receive a food basket

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Sponsored student Diego with his mother and sister
Sponsored student Diego with his mother and sister

On October 30, Sandy Mendoza went to Chukmuk Primary School to attend a very special ceremony. It was an exciting day for the sixth graders of Santiago Atitlán. They were celebrating an important milestone: their primary school graduation.

Sandy was there to support the graduating students who receive scholarships from Pueblo a Pueblo. As a key member of the Primary Education Scholarships team, Sandy has been with these students every step of the way. She has visited their homes to check in on them when they’ve had a tough time in school. She has spoken with their teachers for updates on their academic progress. She has given them encouragement and tough love in equal measure. 

One sponsored student, named Diego, had a special role in the day’s festivities. As recognition for earning the highest grades in his year, he carried the school’s flag when he and his classmates filed onto the stage.

Diego and the other sponsored sixth graders have overcome a lot to finish primary school. They all come from families that believe in the importance of education but struggle to make ends meet. For many sponsored students, a scholarship from Pueblo a Pueblo is the only way they can attend school at all. Many of them are the first in their families to graduate from sixth grade.

During the ceremony, each student received a diploma, shook hands with the principal, and smiled for a picture in front of the Guatemalan flag. The room was filled with powerful emotions. One student’s mother approached Sandy for a tearful hug, thanking her again and again for “all you’ve done for my son.”

In January, Diego and the other sponsored graduates will begin seventh grade with the support of donors like you.

Your donations make it possible for students like Diego to attend and excel in school. Thank you for believing that economic need should not be a barrier to education. Your support fuels sponsored students' success!

Diego prepares to file in with his classmates
Diego prepares to file in with his classmates
Chukmuk Primary School Class of 2019
Chukmuk Primary School Class of 2019
Sponsored student Heidy with her parents
Sponsored student Heidy with her parents

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Students pose with their new athletic uniforms
Students pose with their new athletic uniforms

For many families in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, sending a child to school gets complicated fast. When a household of five or six family members depends on an income of less than $4.00 per day, it is nearly impossible for parents to enroll even one child in school due to the laundry list of costs associated with school attendance.

For example, every public school student in Santiago Atitlán must purchase a sports uniform and shoes to wear during gym class throughout the school year. While gym clothes may seem an insignificant detail, the inability to pay for a sports uniform can prevent children in Santiago from attending and excelling in school.

At Pueblo a Pueblo, we believe that economic need should not prevent children from having the opportunity to learn. That’s why every student participating in the Primary Education Scholarships project receives a uniform and a pair of athletic shoes each year.

Last week, project manager Johanny Quiejú visited Chukmuk Primary School to deliver a brand-new uniform to each student. Once she had passed out a shirt and sweatpants to each of the sixteen students in attendance, the boys and girls tried them on. With a color-coordinated uniform in tow, each student is more prepared to take on elementary school and all its challenges—without worrying about how to pay for gym clothes.

Our Primary Education Scholarships team works hard to set students up for success, but we can’t do it without supporters like you! Thank you for believing in the power of education to transform lives and the little boosts—sometimes as simple as a gym uniform—that make a big difference along the way.

Johanny helps out
Johanny helps out
Chukmuk Primary School scholarship recipients
Chukmuk Primary School scholarship recipients
A student shows off her new uniform
A student shows off her new uniform

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A mother participates in the workshop
A mother participates in the workshop

Johanny and Sandy are the team behind the Primary Education Scholarships project. They work with families who are determined to give their children the opportunity to study in spite of considerable social and economic obstacles.

Each year, Johanny and Sandy host a series of workshops for parents of students sponsored through the project. They decided to focus this year’s sessions on a topic relevant to our partner communities: school dropout and how to prevent it.

On Wednesday, June 12, Johanny and Sandy were setting up for a workshop in Panabaj, one of the four neighborhoods of Santiago Atitlán where sponsored students live and study. As they dragged chairs into place, mothers of sponsored students arrived one after another, some with younger children in tow.

The facilitators began the session by introducing the day’s theme. “We want to hear from you,” Johanny continued. “What factors contribute to school dropout in your community?” The participants’ answers ranged from bullying at school to economic concerns to a lack of support from teachers. Sandy wrote down each answer on a large wall display.

Then, Sandy asked the mothers, “What can we as parents do about these problems? How can we make sure our children have the support they need to stay in school?” The participants had plenty of ideas, questions, and frustrations to share. One mother suggested regular meetings with the child’s teacher. Another countered that her child’s teacher has been uninterested in even talking with her. Johanny proposed, “If your child’s teacher is not helpful, try speaking with  the school principal—you have every right to request support from your child’s school.”

Sandy and Johanny also urged parents to promote gender equity in their homes. “It is important that our sons and our daughters have the same opportunities, including the opportunity to study,” Johanny told participants, “and this starts at home. Our daughters shouldn’t be the only ones helping to sweep and wash and cook—our sons can help too!” Teaching children that girls are just as smart and capable as boys will help them to succeed in school despite obstacles, she explained.

After many rounds of questions, answers, suggestions, and follow-ups, the facilitators shared a snack with the participants and the mothers set off for home once again. Johanny and Sandy packed up their materials and headed back to the office. Now that they have wrapped up their workshops in all four communities, they will interview participating mothers to see what they learned and what our team can do better next time.

Johanny feels that she gains as much from facilitating these workshops as the mothers do from participating. “It’s important that the mothers we work with feel they can trust us, and these sessions help us build rapport,” she says. “When we show that we’re listening, that we’re here to help, the mothers are more likely to reach out to us when their children are having trouble in school.” It is this dedication to individual mothers, students, and families that makes Johanny and Sandy such valuable allies. Your support of the Primary Education Scholarships project makes all of this possible: greater understanding, stronger collaboration, and smarter problem-solving that keeps kids learning, growing, and attending school!

Johanny facilitates the discussion
Johanny facilitates the discussion
Mothers of sponsored students attend the workshop
Mothers of sponsored students attend the workshop
Sandy listens to a participant's suggestion
Sandy listens to a participant's suggestion
A mother and her young daughter look on
A mother and her young daughter look on
Johanny and Sandy after the workshop
Johanny and Sandy after the workshop

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
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Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
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Neenah, WI United States

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