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
Pedro receiving his Christmas gift and basket
Pedro receiving his Christmas gift and basket

The end of the year is always a busy time for our Child Education Support Program. Once December hits, sponsors begin to send extra support to provide gifts and Christmas baskets for their sponsored students. This year, 53 sponsored students received gifts and baskets, which meant there was a lot to accomplish in a short time!

Project Manager, Johanny Quieju, told us, “For me, this is the busiest time of the year because we have to accomplish so many things!”

And that’s no understatement. Johanny and other project staff put together all of the 53 Christmas baskets, which included bread, fruit, spices, and other supplies to prepare a Christmas meal. They also went shopping for clothing for the students’ gifts, making sure to get all the right sizes and colors for each student.

After all this hard work, the payoff was absolutely worth it!  Families arrived in the Pueblo a Pueblo office the week before Christmas, excited to receive their Christmas goodies. For many families, these end-of-year gifts made a huge difference, and helped to brighten the holidays.

One 10-year-old student, Pedro, comes from a poor family that is hardly able to pay their rent each month. Up until now, the holiday season has been a sad time for Pedro’s family, as they have never had enough money to prepare a real Christmas meal. This year, however, Pedro joined our Primary Education Scholarships Project, which has relieved a lot of financial stress for his family. Thanks to his scholarship and the Christmas gifts, Pedro and his family were able to enjoy their first traditional Christmas meal this year.

Following this exciting and busy time of year, project staff and students will be able to rest for the holidays. Now that January has begun, the craziness will start all over again as they begin to prepare for the beginning of a new school year!

Johanny and Jemima shopping for gifts
Johanny and Jemima shopping for gifts
Happy family with their holiday gifts
Happy family with their holiday gifts
All of our sponsored students with their gifts!
All of our sponsored students with their gifts!
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Maria Isabel, a 4th grade tutoring student
Maria Isabel, a 4th grade tutoring student

As the 2015 school year comes to a close this week, our Primary Education Scholarships Project is moving into new territory. During the coming break from school, the project will begin a pilot tutoring initiative to help those students that, given the many difficulties they face, were unsuccessful in passing their grade.

Currently, about 15% of scholarship students do not pass to the next grade level. Our project manager, Johanny Queiju, hopes the tutoring will eventually help all students to pass: “…with the tutoring, our objective is to offer these students the opportunity to improve their school performance.”

Our initial reach will be limited, working with four struggling fourth and fifth grade students from the Chukmuk School. These students attend school through scholarships, but difficult circumstances pushed them off course during the school year. One fifth grade student, Yessica Paola, who suffers from a disability that has affected her since birth, recently changed schools and has struggled to adjust to her new environment, which in turn affected her studies. Ana, a fourth-grade student, performed much more poorly in school after her father left her family and she was left to take on more responsibility at home.

The new tutoring pilot will give students like Yessica and Ana the opportunity to study and make up the work for the classes they failed. It will help them avoid repeating a grade and instead start the next school year along with their peers. The project will be led by Isabela, a former scholarship student who, in part because of the support of Pueblo a Pueblo, was recently able to complete her schooling and become a certified teacher. The project has come full circle! 

Isabela and Maria Isabel in a tutoring session
Isabela and Maria Isabel in a tutoring session
Isabela, former scholarship student turned teacher
Isabela, former scholarship student turned teacher
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Students checking out their new school goodies
Students checking out their new school goodies

The halfway point in the school year means a lot is happening with our Primary Education Scholarships project!

Last week Pueblo a Pueblo distributed school supplies to 105 student scholars. Although we have always provided school supplies in the beginning of the year, we recently started restocking necessary items at the midyear point and saw great success. This small contribution, with materials like pens, pencils, and glue, is a big help to local families that often have to replace lost school supplies throughout the year. 

It’s also time to visit the doctor! Here in Santiago only about 50% of children are fortunate enough to have regular medical checkups. However, as part of our scholarships, students are provided with regular doctor appointments and any additional needed care. In the upcoming weeks, all 105 scholars will visit the doctor as a way to stay healthy and be prepared for school!

Finally, we are pleased to introduce, Andrea, the newest member to our project. Typically our scholarships are provided at the beginning of a new school year, but Andrea is an exception. Receiving her scholarship just this month, Andrea is now getting support while attending her first year of primary school. She lives with her mother, father, and two brothers and is currently learning how to read and write in class. Despite her young age, Andrea told us that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Our hope is that this scholarship motivates Andrea to stay in school and brings her one step closer to achieving her dreams in the future.

Student receiving a dental checkup
Student receiving a dental checkup
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One of our scholarship students from Chacaya
One of our scholarship students from Chacaya

The school year is underway in Guatemala and students across the country are preparing to take their first exams of the year. While testing may cause anxiety for students and their families, evaluations and grades are important indicators for Pueblo a Pueblo staff to address the needs of scholarship students.

As part of a scholarship, students receive school supplies and gym uniforms in addition to medical care, including dental checkups and medications. Most importantly, we also offer one-on-one, tailored support and mentorship for students.

When students perform poorly on exams, their teachers help us arrange a home visit to meet with the student and his or her family. Through these visits, we can determine the causes behind a student’s poor academic performance and construct a plan with the family on how to get the student back on track.

In a country where more than 50% of indigenous students do not complete their primary education, extra support from a caring adult makes all the difference. Most students in rural communities of Guatemala are forced to leave school early because their families cannot afford school fees or they do not see the importance of completing their education.

One of our former scholarship students, Isabella, dropped out of school in the 4th grade. She was one of the youngest children in a family of 13 and it was not a surprise when she and her friends decided to abandon school. However, their teachers brought the situation to our attention and with the help of a scholarship, they quickly re-enrolled. Isabella still faced a lot of challenges and withstood pressure from friends and families urging her to leave school but four years later, Isabella is studying to become a teacher and hopes to pass on the love of learning to younger children.

When speaking to her about the scholarship program, Isabella told us that without the support from our staff, she would have left school in the 6th grade. She is so proud to have a degree and is excited by the opportunities available to her because she completed her education.  

We’re happy to provide the support that young students like Isabella need to complete their education in rural Guatemala and we hope to help many more in the future. Thanks for your ongoing support!

Students from Panabaj
Students from Panabaj
Students in Chacaya receiving school supplies
Students in Chacaya receiving school supplies
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The start of a school year can be particularly stressful and expensive for many families. In Guatemala, where nearly 70% of the population lives in poverty, having pencils and scribblers for the New Year presents a common challenge. Pueblo a Pueblo aims to mitigate this problem for the neediest families by providing Primary Education Scholarships to young students. At the start of this school year, we delivered 146 backpacks full of school supplies to local children who would otherwise be unable to afford what they need to attend school.

Being a new intern for Pueblo a Pueblo, I assisted in the organization, coordination, and hard work needed to get these backpacks ready for our event. When distribution day came, excitement was high as all the students impatiently waited in line to receive materials for the new school year. However, the highlight for me was seeing the huge smiles on the students’ faces as they enthusiastically tore open their backpacks and examined their new supplies.

Not only do these backpacks get children more excited for school, but the students know that being a scholarship recipient requires their commitment to attend school regularly. In a place where only 60% of students complete the sixth grade, attendance in schools is crucial to escape the cycle of poverty that plagues most indigenous, coffee-farming communities. Through scholarship awards, families agree to prioritize education for their children. In return, Pueblo a Pueblo eliminates additional obstacles to accessing education by providing basic supplies, medical check-ups, and targeted academic support from kindergarten through sixth grade.  

Seeing the students receive their backpacks made me realize the positive impact that this project has on families in Santiago and the surrounding communities. Not only were the students full of excitement and eager to continue their schooling, but many of their mothers looked on with pride, thankful for the opportunity to see their children succeed where many don’t. I’m glad I was able to help with this event and look forward to the beginning of new school year here in Guatemala.

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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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