Creating Educational Opportunity for Maya Children

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Sponsored students with their new backpacks
Sponsored students with their new backpacks

After a two-month long break, students in Guatemala returned to school at the end of January. This time of year is usually filled with much excitement, with new notebooks, pencils, and anticipation of what the new school year will bring. However, for many children in rural Guatemalan communities, the cost of buying the materials required for the coming school year presents a significant roadblock to attending classes.

That is why our Primary Education Scholarships Project includes a full bag of school supplies for all beneficiary students, so they can start the school year off right. And thanks to the support of our GlobalGiving donors, Pueblo a Pueblo is able to support two more students this year, Gabriela and Daniel.

Gabriela and Daniel are both entering the 8th grade at Panabaj Institute. Gabriela loves school and has a strong academic record. When she grows up, Gabriela wants to study law and become a lawyer. Johanny Quieju, the Primary Education Scholarships project manager notes, “Gabriela has always been a hard worker in school, but without financial resources, it would have been very difficult for her to continue her studies. With the support of GlobalGiving, Gabriela can continue to attend school and pursue her dreams.”

“Daniel is a bit older -- 18 years old -- because before the support of Pueblo a Pueblo, he had to repeat the 6th grade several times. Before a sponsorship, he didn’t have access to the right materials or a tutor when he was falling behind in school. His family works very hard in agriculture, so they didn’t have the time to support him in his studies,” Johanny explains.

Since Pueblo a Pueblo first began to support Daniel through an individual sponsor, and now through contributions of GlobalGiving donors, he has improved his grades and is much more active in school. “Now that he has the right tools to excel in school, he’s taking advantage of the opportunity, and I can see an attitude change in him. He is on track to graduate middle school this October,” adds Johanny.

In February, thanks to your contributions, we presented Gabriela and Daniel with school supplies and backpack to begin the school year. Also, with your GlobalGiving donations, Gabriela and Daniel will be supported throughout the year by our Primary Education Scholarships team. Thank you for your support!

Johanny speaking at the school supplies drive
Johanny speaking at the school supplies drive
Daniel
Daniel
Gabriela
Gabriela
Graduation at Panabaj Primary School
Graduation at Panabaj Primary School

Fall is always an exciting time for Pueblo a Pueblo’s Child Education team. And this year 12-year-old Cristobal Ramirez and his family are especially excited. At the end of October, Cristobal’s family all gathered at Panabaj Primary School and proudly watched him earn his diploma.

October marks the end of the school year here in Guatemala, which means graduation season for many of our student beneficiaries. In total, 11 students successfully graduated from Panabaj and Chukmuk Primary Schools. Graduation from elementary school marks a huge milestone for these students, since a lack of access to educational support hinders many from thriving in the classroom.

However, with the support of Pueblo a Pueblo’s sponsorship program, students can receive weekly tutoring sessions, personalized attention in subjects ranging from math to social sciences. Students like Cristobal, who began the year with low academic performance, began to attend tutoring sessions and dramatically improved their marks.

Stories like Cristobal’s are possible only with the support of donors like you. As we near the end of the year, Pueblo a Pueblo is counting on you to reach our goal of $60,000. With every dollar, we can continue this cycle of change for communities in rural Guatemala. Together we can extend educational opportunities to more children, open more doors, and empower more communities.

Donate today to make a difference in rural Guatemalan communities!

Beneficiary graduates at Panabaj
Beneficiary graduates at Panabaj
Teachers proudly watching their students graduate
Teachers proudly watching their students graduate
Parents at a workshop at Panabaj School
Parents at a workshop at Panabaj School

This July, our Primary Education Scholarships team began a new pilot project called Charlas con padres (Chats with Parents). In rural communities surrounding Lake Atitlan, many parents are illiterate and find it difficult to help their children with their studies. To address this issue, the project includes a series of workshops focused on helping parents find creative ways to support their child in school.

The first workshops took place at Chukmuk and Panabaj Elementary Schools. According to Johanny Quieju, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Primary Education Scholarships Manager, “Many parents came to participate, and feedback from the workshop was very positive.” Illiteracy is common here, so there is not a lot of emphasis on education. With this project, “I think more parents are understanding that their role is to motivate their children to succeed in school,” added Quieju.

Some ideas to support children at home with their studies is to keep regular communication with the teacher, designate a specific homework hour, and limit distractions during that time. Other ideas include having children write down recipes as their parents cook -- this not only records family meals, but it helps students with their reading and writing!

These ideas may seem small, but the purpose is to help parents have an active role in their child’s education. “With these steps, we can increase parent’s participation,” remarked Johanny Quieju. “We are very excited to expand this pilot project to other schools in our beneficiary communities!”

A workshop at Chukmuk School
A workshop at Chukmuk School
Johanny speaking at a workshop
Johanny speaking at a workshop
Concepcion smiling after her surgery
Concepcion smiling after her surgery

Concepcion is not your normal 9 year old girl. As a baby, her parents found a small lump on top of her head. When they brought her to the doctor, they were told the lump was not dangerous and would pass with time.

For the next few years, Concepcion lived with the small lump on her head. When she turned 6 years old, her parents took her back to the doctor. They got the same response: surgery wasn’t necessary, and she would have to live with the uncomfortable lump.

In the past six months, however, Concepcion started to feel more and more discomfort. Her teacher began to notice that she was not feeling well, and saw that Concepcion kept leaving class to go to the bathroom and splash water on her face to relieve the pain.

Given her increasing discomfort, Concepcion’s parents decided to bring her back to the doctor this year. To their relief, the doctor said they could go through with the surgery to remove the lump, and referred them to a health center in Solola, the capital of the state. But there was one problem: how to cover the costs of the procedure.

This is the kind of situation in which your support is crucial. Although Concepcion’s older sister, Dolores, is sponsored through our Primary Education Scholarships Project, Concepcion was not. When their parents reached out to tell us about her illness, we moved her to the top of our waitlist for new sponsored students. Luckily, there was an existing sponsor interested in supporting another child, and who was able to sponsor Concepcion.

After she became sponsored through our project, Pueblo a Pueblo was able to help cover the family’s expenses with your support. Our Primary Education Scholarships Project is committed to helping students with any medical expenses by putting aside $5 of every $25 donated towards a medical savings fund. This means that we collect over $500 every month dedicated to medical expenses. In general, only about 10 students need to visit the doctor each month because of minor illnesses.The rest of the money is dedicated to group medical campaigns and unique cases like Concepcion’s.

Because of your support, Concepcion was able to get the medical attention she needed. It has been one month since her surgery, and she is now pain free and happier than ever. Her family is relieved to see their daughter feeling better, and we at Pueblo a Pueblo are grateful for your support that helped to make this happen.

Bonus: Concepcion starred in our "Learn Tz'utujil" video this month! Check out the link below.

Project Manager, Johanny, visiting the family
Project Manager, Johanny, visiting the family
Concepcion with her mother and younger sister
Concepcion with her mother and younger sister

Links:

Students receiving their new athletic shoes!
Students receiving their new athletic shoes!

The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time for our Primary Education Scholarships project. As our sponsored students began classes in January, we hosted the first event of the year: handing out school supplies. Students and their families from our different partner communities flooded the Pueblo a Pueblo office over the course of the week, bringing their smiling faces and excitement for the year ahead.

Students from kindergarten to high school received backpacks filled to the brim with all the school supplies they will need for the school year. The backpacks make a huge difference for families struggling to afford basic supplies for their children’s education -- serving as a push for students to stay in school.

Now that the school year is underway, we recently held another exciting event giving students new sneakers to be used in their physical education class. Something as basic as a pair of shoes is often out of reach for many students, as Project Manager Johanny Quieju describes:

"Athletic supplies are a necessity that the parents are unable to buy, but that Pueblo a Pueblo can cover.  Many students have so little income that they are unable to purchase adequate shoes, and sneakers are critical for physical education classes, which complement students’ general education."

One of our sponsored students almost did not come back to school this year.  Ashly, a 6-year-old student from Panabaj, was devastated after her father died unexpectedly in December. Her father used to carry her on his shoulders on the walk to school every day -- and she did not want to do the walk without him. After the tragedy, Ashly’s mother told us that she was not going to enroll her daughter in the school anymore; doing so had become too difficult, both financially and emotionally.

After speaking with Ashly’s family, we encouraged them to continue sending her to school and to keep her in Pueblo a Pueblo’s sponsorship program so that Ashly could be successful and continue her education. Thankfully, Ashley is back in school, and she is very happy.  She recently received brand new athletic shoes along with her peers!

Before and after!
Before and after!
All the shoes lined up and ready to be handed out
All the shoes lined up and ready to be handed out
Ashly at the beginning of the school year
Ashly at the beginning of the school year
 

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.puebloapueblo.org
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States

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