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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
Students with their new backpacks
Students with their new backpacks

For our Primary Education Scholarships team, the holiday season isn’t just a time for celebrating at home with family and friends—it’s also a time when they celebrate with sponsored students. And January isn’t just the beginning of a new calendar year—here in Guatemala, it is also the first month of a new school year! With plenty to do and so much on the horizon, it has been a busy and joyful month here at Pueblo a Pueblo.

Our team spent early December hauling box after box of fruit, rice, cooking oil, and other foods into the office. They arranged the items in large baskets for sponsored students to take home for the Christmas holidays, a time that can be stressful for families whose income is already stretched thin. The baskets full of staple foods will relieve some of this economic pressure as families prepare a traditional Guatemalan Christmas eve meal of tamales and celebrate the holiday together.

The afternoon of December 13, students and parents arrived at the office for the project's annual end-of year gathering. After some opening remarks from project manager Johanny Quiejú, the team passed out Christmas baskets to each student. Johanny then ended the gathering with a few announcements about the fast-approaching school year.

January brings a change of pace for kids who have been working, playing, and helping out at home since school let out in October. The first week of the new year, Johanny and her team were back at work, filling up backpacks with pencils, notebooks, rulers, and all of the other tools that sponsored students will need to succeed in school this year. In Santiago Atitlán, students must bring their own supplies to school; when families are unable to afford to buy everything students need to complete assignments, their academic performance suffers. And so, on January 10, Johanny and her team passed out a backpack to each of the sponsored students in attendance.

Here in the state of Sololá, where one of every three adults cannot read or write, the barriers to receiving even a primary school education are many, but the Primary Education Scholarship project helps students succeed in spite of those challenges. Behind every sponsored student is a sponsor who believes in her. A monthly donation of $30 provides a primary school student with the resources they need to thrive all year long. Consider sponsoring a student’s education today!

*If you are interested in beginning a new sponsorship, send us an email at communications@puebloapueblo.org.

Preparing Christmas baskets for sponsored students
Preparing Christmas baskets for sponsored students
Sponsored student Maria del Rosario and her mother
Sponsored student Maria del Rosario and her mother
Johanny hands out forms at back-to-school meeting
Johanny hands out forms at back-to-school meeting
Marza is ready for school!
Marza is ready for school!

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Salvador
Salvador

October is an exciting time of year for our Primary Education Scholarships project because with the end of the school year here in Guatemala comes graduation season! This year, eight of our sponsored students will graduate from primary school, two will graduate from middle school, and another two will graduate from high school. Every graduation at any level is a victory in a region where more than three out of ten adults cannot read or write*, and every of these invaluable milestones is made possible by the consistent support our team provides students throughout the school year. All sponsored students receive the financial assistance they need to pay the costs associated with attending public school in Guatemala, costs that are prohibitively high for many families and can force kids to drop out. Some students, however, need a little extra personalized support. For one sponsored student, this meant getting help navigating miscommunications in the classroom.

Salvador Damian is a sixth grader at Chukmuk Primary School. He will graduate from primary school in just a few short weeks, but his graduation wasn’t always a sure thing. In fact, in May of this year he was set on dropping out of school, an all-too-common reality for many young Guatemalans in the Lake Atitlán region. Salvador had been having some problems in class. Although he asked frequently to be allowed to sit up close to the whiteboard, his teacher refused—some of Salvador’s friends also sat up front and the teacher worried that they would become disruptive if allowed to sit together. The sixth grader said that he felt his teacher did not understand him, and a pattern of miscommunication developed between student and teacher. Eventually Salvador, frustrated, announced that he would not return to school, even though he was just months away from his primary school graduation.

Knowing that educational support comes in all forms, our team sprang into action. They visited Salvador and his family in their home. They listened patiently as the sixth grader refused, again and again, to go back to school. They visited his school, where they spoke with his teacher and even his principal. Weeks passed, but our team did not give up.

Finally, our team discovered that Salvador had been struggling with vision problems for quite some time. He had insisted on sitting close to the board—against his teacher’s wishes—because he was not able to see from his seat in the back row. He felt unheard in his classroom and upset at his resulting academic struggles, and by the time May rolled around he had reached his breaking point.

Once Salvador and his family realized what was going on, he was fitted for glasses, and thanks to the efforts of our team he was able to reconcile with his teacher and jump back into his last year of primary school on the right foot. Now Salvador will not only graduate—he will also continue his studies in middle school come next school year, on the condition that the healthcare portion of his sponsorship include regular check-ups with an eye doctor.

Salvador’s case reflects how sometimes a little bit of patience can solve the trickiest problems—even nearsightedness and miscommunication. Because of our team’s efforts, Salvador will stay in school, and from now on he’ll have the glasses he needs to succeed!

*National Institute of Statistics Guatemala, 2014. https://www.ine.gob.gt/sistema/uploads/2014/02/26/L5pNHMXzxy5FFWmk9NHCrK9x7E5Qqvvy.pdf

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A Panabaj student with her new uniform
A Panabaj student with her new uniform

Last week, project manager Johanny visited Panabaj School to deliver brand new athletic uniforms to students in the primary school scholarships program. All primary school students are required to buy a uniform for gym class, a cost which many families in this region struggle to meet. All Pueblo a Pueblo school sponsorships include athletic uniforms to remove this barrier to school attendance.

Upon arriving, Johanny greeted Pueblo a Pueblo partner Concepción Samuc, a teacher at Panabaj who serves as a key link between the scholarship team and the school. Concepción and Johanny work together to coordinate all scholarship activities, like today’s uniform delivery - when it comes to the scholarship program, she makes our world go 'round!

Johanny also took advantage of an opportunity to chat with the mother of a sponsored student who happened to be passing by. She was concerned about the boy’s attendance at school, she explained, and inquired what could be done to help. Visits like these not only put uniforms in the hands of students, but they are also vital to the connectivity of Pueblo a Pueblo programs to the communities where participants live. By showing up and reaching out, Johanny is able to solve problems before they begin and bring real knowledge of communities like Panabaj into the Pueblo a Pueblo office.

Concepcion helps students find their uniforms
Concepcion helps students find their uniforms
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Getting new school supplies each year is one of the best parts of going back to school. But, for many families in the Solola Department, the costs of new supplies is a barrier to education.

The Guatemalan school year began in early January. Our Primary Education Scholarship (PES) Project began this year by distributing backpacks and school supplies.  Thanks to you, 99 children received new school supplies.

Your support enables the families to save what they’ve earned, likely picking coffee during the school break. Not being able to afford school supplies is a common contributor to the 14% of children who never attend school and the 27% of children who  begin, but don’t finish, their primary education.

The backpacks were filled with rulers, colored pencils, notebooks, scissors, pencils, and markers. One by one, each child received her or his new backpack and materials and excitedly looked through it.  The children are always excited to see what color notebooks they got trade with their friends until they have just the right color.

We’re so happy that at least the students had one less barrier to their education. And when they sport their brand new Pueblo a Pueblo backpacks in their classrooms, we know they are proud and happy as well. On their behalf, we thank you  for your support!  Your generosity makes all of this possible.

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The 2017 Panabaj Primary School graduating class
The 2017 Panabaj Primary School graduating class

The Guatemalan school year is over. It's an exciting time at Pueblo a Pueblo! We celebrated alongside three beneficiary students at Panabaj Primary School. Andrea, Magdalena and Jose sat next to each other among their classmates and, with a handshake from the director, received their diplomas. This is a feat worth celebrating, as they became part of the 14 percent of youth in Department Solola that complete their primary education.*

We’re always ecstatic when our beneficiary students succeed. In rural Guatemala, there seem to be more obstacles than opportunities for children to get an education.

“The main educational challenge kids face is money,” says Johanny Quieju, the Primary Education Scholarship Project Manager. “Families either don’t have enough money to provide their children with supplies or things they need, or they don’t have enough money in general and the kids start working at a young age to contribute to the household income,” she explains.

Pueblo a Pueblo exists to relieve some of these challenges for students who otherwise wouldn’t have the resources or support to pursue primary education. With help from your GlobalGiving support, students receive support to pay school enrollment fees, school supplies, gym clothes and shoes, access to medical services and one-on-one tutoring.


We can’t take all the credit, though. Andrea, Magdalena and Jose put in their fair share of effort to complete their primary education. They fulfilled the attendance 90% requirement set forth by Pueblo a Pueblo and worked hard to pass their classes and reach a milestone.


It's a time for all of us to celebrate the accomplishemnts of these students, as we couldn;t have done it without you. Thank you for  sharing our vision of education as a tool for success and for contrinuting to the belief that every child deserves the opportunity to complete a primary education, regardless of their economic circumstances. Thank you! We did it!

*Guatemala National Institute of Statistics (2017)

Magdalena, Andrea and Jose graduated!
Magdalena, Andrea and Jose graduated!
Magdalena receives her primary school diploma
Magdalena receives her primary school diploma
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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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