Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala

Over the past six months, each of Pueblo a Pueblo’s sponsored students has been getting accustomed to the new academic year. Traditionally, the Guatemalan academic year begins in January, but due to COVID-19 interruptions that prolonged the end of the previous year, this year’s classes began in mid-February. 

Starting in March of 2020, the Guatemalan government ordered all schools to switch to remote learning, a change that ushered in many challenges for our sponsored students. Johanny, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Primary Education Scholarship Project Manager explained that some of the biggest challenges students faced were a lack of internet access, food insecurity, and the emotional turmoil of such an uncertain time. 

With the support of sponsors and donors like yourself, Pueblo a Pueblo has been able to continue supporting students throughout this difficult time, providing hygiene kits, distributing school supplies, and delivering emergency food baskets to vulnerable families. While our library programs are currently paused due to the pandemic, teachers are prioritizing reading and literacy skills during in person instruction. 

We are proud to have supported our sponsored students and their families through such a challenging year, and are committed to continuing to do so as we enter into 2021. This year, our students are beginning a new phase of the COVID-19 academic plan in Guatemala. Primary school students are attending “hybrid classes” where 2-3 days of instruction each week are in person, and the other days are remote. Each grade level is grouped into “bubbles” of ten students that rotate through weekly schedules of alternating in person and remote learning in accordance with government safety guidelines. 

Although this hybrid learning is not a complete return to “normalcy,” students and teachers alike are thrilled to be back in the classroom in some capacity. In a rural community such as Santiago Atitlan, where internet access is scarce, the ease of communication that comes with in person instruction is vital to the continued academic success of our sponsored students. Pueblo a Pueblo has provided each of our students with the school supplies they need to begin this academic year, and has been checking in with families as they navigate hybrid learning. 

We are very excited that our students have the opportunity to safely return to the classroom where teachers, academic support, and learning enrichment materials are more readily available to them. As we continue to work through the persisting challenges related to COVID-19, we remain steadfast in our mission to empower students to learn and grow as change makers in their communities. We are looking forward to supporting our students through this next phase, and are extremely grateful for your help in making that a possibility!

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A school library in Nueva Providencia (2017)
A school library in Nueva Providencia (2017)

Over the past few months, our community here in Santiago Atitlán has experienced a number of big changes as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. In accordance with government restrictions, most of our typical in-person programming has been suspended. Only small, socially distanced, masked, and outdoor workshops are permitted at this time. In addition, the physical school buildings have been closed since March of 2020. 

Students finished last school year remotely, and just this month, are once again beginning remote classes for the new school year. The nearly 100 students that Pueblo a Pueblo sponsors ranging from primary school all the way up to university have faced immense academic challenges during the pandemic. Due to varying levels of internet and technology access, public schools in the Santiago Atitlán community opted for printed out instruction and worksheets rather than strictly online learning. Teachers continue to support students, however being unable to physically be at school limits student access to the library projects that Pueblo a Pueblo supports. 

Under such challenging circumstances, we are so proud of the resiliency and dedication to education that our students have displayed.

This past year, fifteen sponsored primary school students graduated from sixth grade, and are choosing to continue with their studies in middle school. This is an outstanding accomplishment here in the Department of Solola where only 14% of students complete primary school*. 

Although our library projects are currently not operating due to government restrictions on school reopenings, we are doing all we can to support the overall education of our students. We hope that as conditions improve and government restrictions ease to allow for some hybrid learning, our book lending, storytelling, and library activities can resume as well. 

Until then, we are happy to have such bright, dedicated students to celebrate. We hope that you celebrate their achievements alongside us, as your support is invaluable to our student’s success. Thank you for sharing Pueblo a Pueblo’s vision of literacy and education as powerful tools for pushing communities forward! 

*Guatemala National Institute of Statistics 2018 

Storytelling at the Patzilin Abaj library! (2018)
Storytelling at the Patzilin Abaj library! (2018)
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Patzilin Abaj Library (February 2019)
Patzilin Abaj Library (February 2019)

Over the past few months, our community here in Santiago Atitlán has experienced a number of big changes as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. In accordance with government restrictions, all of our typical in-person programming has been suspended. In addition, schools have been closed since March, and students have been working remotely to finish their studies for the year. 

Throughout these difficult times, Pueblo a Pueblo has been working to find innovative strategies to continue making reading a priority in our community! One way has been through online workshops. 

On July 29th, Rebeca and Johanny teamed up to lead a workshop entitled “Animación a la lectura en casa” or Encouraging Reading at Home. 17 participants, made up primarily of local teachers and parents, tuned in for this one hour workshop. 

In it, they learned a variety of techniques about how to keep children engaged and excited throughout the entire reading process and beyond. Rebeca and Johanny shared that pre-reading and post-reading activities are especially important for enhanced comprehension and continued interest in reading!

Although we definitely miss our in-person interactions with students, Pueblo a Pueblo is proud to still be engaging with our community from a distance!

Currently, classes are winding down for the school year, and Pueblo a Pueblo is working with teachers and administration at Patzilin Abaj Primary School, the site of our active School Library project, to develop strategies for the coming school year! Our team is reviewing the content for upcoming “teacher-training” workshops so that when schools open again, we will be ready to equip Patzilin Abaj teachers with the knowledge they need to continue building a culture of enthusiasm and curiosity around reading!

Learning how to use library tablets (2019)
Learning how to use library tablets (2019)
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As the whole world deals with COVID 19 pandemic, 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. Since the schools shifted to remote classes, the school libraries remain closed.

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, including the ones that have participated in Pathways to Literacy project, leading to  widespread food insecurity as most people live day-to-day, are in the informal economy, and rely directly and indirectly on tourism. 

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. This includes members from the School Library Support Group in Patzilín Abaj. 

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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Students use the RACHEL program on a tablet
Students use the RACHEL program on a tablet

Tucked away in small communities on Guatemala's Lake Atitlán, many of our partner schools lack access to one of the world’s most powerful teaching tools: the internet. We’re committed to seeing students succeed despite the challenges of rural life.

How do we do it? With RACHEL. This educational tool allows for knowledge-sharing without the use of the internet. We offer RACHEL through a collaboration with Mundo Posible to give students the chance to learn beyond the walls of their classrooms.

How does it work? Each library has a router that allows students to log into RACHEL from an electronic tablet. Students can then engage with an extensive collection of educational games, stories, and videos. All materials come pre-selected based on students’ age and reading levels. RACHEL can triple or even quadruple the resources Pueblo a Pueblo is able to donate to any given school.

It’s no secret that in today’s world, most public and private institutions depend heavily on computers and other digital technologies. As a result, many jobs—even in rural Guatemala—require technological literacy. We seek to prepare students for personal and professional success, and RACHEL is a helpful way to build the skills they need to achieve this.

RACHEL helps schools address the challenges of rural life. The program also gives students from rural communities access to the life-long benefits of technological literacy. Your donations to this project help us bring RACHEL to schools all around Lake Atitlán. Thank you for supporting students as they learn to read, write, communicate, and self-advocate in an ever-changing world.

Librarian Ms. Clara helps students use the program
Librarian Ms. Clara helps students use the program
Student literacy ambassadors (in vests) use RACHEL
Student literacy ambassadors (in vests) use RACHEL

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States
$40,128 raised of $50,000 goal
 
927 donations
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