Early Literacy for Indigenous Children

by Las Manos de Christine

La lectura y escritura son herramientas indispensables en la vida de todo ser humano y aunque parezca increíble El Hato todavía es una comunidad que lucha contra el analfabetismo estando apenas a diez minutos de la Antigua Guatemala una de las principales ciudades del país.

Por analfabetismo, falta de interés y lo caro que resulta para las familias comprar un libro en vez de comida, Las Manos De Christine tomó la iniciativa de crear una biblioteca que sea accesible no solo para estudiantes sino para la comunidad en sí.

El año pasada gracias a las donaciones recibidas y la ayuda de varios voluntarios se comenzó con una clasificación de libros de forma fácil y sencilla para que todos sepan utilizarlos, y hoy, la biblioteca no solo cuenta con libros de donaciones recibidas por parte de Las Manos de Christine sino también cuenta con libros y donaciones de libros que recibe la escuela José Ignacio Ortiz Vides.

De esta manera y con una organización que diferencia los libros de la escuela con los libros de Las Manos, la biblioteca ha crecido enormemente y beneficiando a todo aquel que de ella necesita.

Dentro de las actividades que en la biblioteca se realizan están el préstamo de libros, préstamo de computadoras para investigación, préstamo de enciclopedias y libros de investigación, clases de inglés, clases bibliotecarias, arte, préstamo de juegos y juguetes, talleres, voluntariado, entre otros.

Gracias a los donadores y voluntarios extranjeros y nacionales podemos presumir de una biblioteca debidamente organizada y en crecimiento.

-Alejandra Shoc

Para ayudar a Las Manos a ayudar a la comunidad de El Hato, sea voluntario con nosotros cuando esté en Antigua, o visite nuestro sitio web para donar.

The Library!!!

Reading and writing are indispensable tools for all people and although it might seem incredible, El Hato is still a community that struggles against illiteracy even though it is only ten minutes from Antigua, one of the main cities of Guatemala.

Because of illiteracy, lack of interest and the high cost of buying books when families can barely afford to buy food, Las Manos de Christine took the initiative in creating a library that is accessible not only to students but also to the community itself.

Last year, thanks to donations received and to the help of various volunteers, we introduced a new method of classifying the library books. Easily implemented, everyone knows how to use this simple method. Now the library not only has books donated to Las Manos de Christine but also houses the books of and donated directly to the El Hato public school, José Ignacio Oritz Vides.

The system incorporates a way to distinguish the books owned by the school from those owned by Las Manos, and so has grown enormously, benefitting everyone who needs it.

The library is now the center of many activities, including: the lending of books; the lending of computers for research; the lending of encyclopedias and other reference works; English classes; library classes; art projects; the lending of games and toys; workshops; etc. It also serves as the headquarters for the activities of volunteers.

Thanks to the donors and volunteers, both foreign and local, we can boast a properly-organized and growing library.

Maria is the mother of eleven children. With the exception of her eldest son, who attends the IGER program on Saturdays, her children do not attend school. She dreams that one day her daughters will have the opportunity to the education she never had. She made a promise to her daughters that when the family has the means, she would work to get them into school one by one, oldest first.

For the past few months Delmi, our Library Assistant, has been teaching seven of Maria’s school age daughters how to read and write. They meet at Delmi’s home three mornings per week to study. After visiting Delmi’s class and talking with Maria, we began the process of getting the girls registered for school.

Registering a child for school sounds simple, but can be quite a challenge for an illiterate mother with limited means. The Ministry of Education requires a newly issued birth certificate and the process for acquiring one involves cash for various fees and copies, proof of birth from literate witnesses, and several trips to the Office of Vital Records.

We were successful in obtaining the proper documents for five of Maria’s seven daughters who want to be and should be in school. We’re still working on getting documents for two. The four oldest sisters have special permission to start the IGER program this week, in time for the second semester. They will attend school on Saturdays and continue working with Delmi a few days per week in her house. The three younger sisters can’t officially start first grade at the El Hato primary school because they missed the cut off for registration by several months, but Paty, the Director, has given them permission to attend class off the record and get acclimated so they’ll be ready to start officially next year.

The cost for a student to attend the IGER Saturday program for teenagers and young adults is $135 per year, which is only $11.25 per month. This includes inscription fees, text books, and uniform. Please consider sponsoring a student monthly or donating to our new Scholarship Fund!

The 2014 school year is coming to an exciting close. We celebrated Independence Day in September with an art contest in Guatemalan symbolism, traditional dance performances, and more.


El Hato students of all ages are enjoying the lending library, and now Allie, the Las Manos preschool teacher is working on take home reading packs. The purpose of the packs is to provide easy reading activities the kids can practice with their parents, even if the parents can’t read. They can learn together. Parents will be invited to join their kids each week for demonstrations on how to use the take home learning materials. 


We will kick off our Vacation Fun Camp on Oct. 27th, 2014. The schedule is complete with tutoring, story time, sports, art, dance, games and more. 

Visit from AIS
Visit from AIS's 2nd Graders

Since January 2014, Las Manos de Christine has been providing an after school librarian twice per week in the El Hato school library. Students and parents are welcome to check out books to use in their homes. When they return the borrowed book they can exchange it for another. Last week the book borrowing program was expanded to the teenage secondary students who attend afternoon classes. They have quickly taken advantage of the library!

In addition, we are attempting to bring more focus to literacy in our English classes. In kindergarten, first, and second grades, the English teacher has begun making small printable paper books with her classes. The books aline with the weekly themes. The children have fun assembling and reading the books together in class and in the end they have their very own books to bring home.

This month, the Antigua International School's 2nd grade class contributed to our reading program! The AIS 2nd graders read to the El Hato kindergarteners and lead them in a book making activity. In addition, they donated books and supplies for the school library. A fun time was had by all!

Thanks for your support! 


Girls celebrate carnaval with "pica-pica"
Girls celebrate carnaval with "pica-pica"

The following is a postcard from Lydia Sorensen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Guatemala, about her recent visit to Las Manos de Christine

On March 4th, 2014, the kids are having a particularly hard time concentrating on their work. It’s Carnaval, and here in Guatemala that means that later in the day they will get to hurl handfuls (and empty egg shells full) of confetti on each other. Before that though they have to make it through a few more hours of school.

Up in the town of El Hato, the public primary school bustles with activity during the week. Las Manos de Christine and the public school have been working together for several years now, originally only with English classes but now all types of collaboration is taking place. Thirty-seven preschoolers sing a song about elephants in the classroom that Las Manos built last year; preschools are still relatively rare in Guatemala, especially in rural and poor communities, and by having one in El Hato the school is hoping to be able to decrease the number of students that fail first grade and drop out of school. Down past the new library where Alejandra the librarian is cataloguing books, the first graders are coloring in fish to decorate the English classroom.

Finally it’s time for recess (and for today, the end of classes), and the kids race out into the courtyard. Soon it’s a free-for-all as confetti (or “pica-pica” as it’s called in Guatemala) flies through the air. They happily hurl it on everyone (including visitors) until the ground is rainbow colored, before waving cheerful goodbye’s as they race out of the school and towards home.

Alejandra helps girls check out books
Alejandra helps girls check out books
Coloring in a fish for classroom art
Coloring in a fish for classroom art

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Organization Information

Las Manos de Christine

Location: Antigua, Sacatepequez - Guatemala
Website: http://lasmanosdc@gmail.com
Project Leader:
Salina Duncan
Antigua, Sacatepequez Guatemala