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Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education

by Cojolya Association
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Empower Maya Weavers' Children through Education
Damariz reads her book at home
Damariz reads her book at home

Education in Guatemala has been more difficult this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since mid-March, the students have not been able to go to school, nor have they been able to learn online because Guatemala has not been able to implement an extensive technological infrastructure in all of its schools, many students don’t know how to use technology, and few have computers in their homes.

In the early days of the pandemic, the students had nothing to study. Because of this, teachers began looking for ways to keep educating their kids without exposing them to the contagion of COVID-19.

They found that the best way was through home visits to bring students homework and worksheets so that the students keep learning with their family’s support.

The students supported through our program are making a concerted effort to succeed. We are looking for ways to continue supporting these kids so that they can finish the school activities that their teachers are leaving in their homes.

So that our students can do their homework this month, we brought them school supplies such as paper, crayons, pencils, paint and books, with the goal that the students can continue realizing their scholastic responsibilities as these academic activities can be done from their homes manually. Having school supplies is necessary to perform these tasks and their families would not be able to provide them because of the economic situation right now.   

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Some work books for our students
Some work books for our students

The Mano a Mano para el Desarrollo program is preparing new booklets for reading comprehension, so that students can acquire new knowledge while at home with their families.

Most of the students turned in the reading brochures they worked on this week. It is up to them to do new exercises to keep them learning and make sure they do not fall behind in school, even as classes have been cancelled for more than 3 months. 

The Mano a Mano program, in addition to providing reading exercises to our students, has also facilitated the use of a laptop for José Miguel who is a fourth-year student. He is currently receiving his school assignments through emails so the Mano a Mano program loaned him a laptop so that he can perform his tasks without problems.

Faced with this crisis, José Miguel continues to study the respective content for his academic training so he won’t fall beyond. This is not the case for every student. Lack of internet access and home computers mean that online learning is impossible for many students. Also, a lack of education on the part of parents means that they cannot always help their children with schoolwork. This is why we have tried to work hard to be sure that these barriers do not keep students from reaching their full potential and adapting to at-home school is one of the many challenges Coronavirus has brought. Thankfully with computers for loan and booklets that we have created, we can do a small part in continuing the education of the next generation while on lockdown.

Working online with a loaned computer!
Working online with a loaned computer!
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Israel helping Damaris with her work
Israel helping Damaris with her work

Our Mano a Mano por el Desarollo project is doing everything possible to reach out to students in these times of crisis since they are no longer going to school. Teaching and learning have been hugely affected these past several weeks. For this reason, the program is doing its best to send learning activity materials that students can do from home.

Damaris is a 7-year-old girl in first grade. At the beginning of the year, she was excited because she was going to learn to read and write. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closing of schools has interrupted Damaris’s learning. Going to school is the only avenue of learning literacy for many students, especially because their parents cannot read or write. Further, there are few technological resources available out of school, including access to computers, or even books, which makes it difficult for students to continue their learning. This crisis has highlighted the difficulties in providing a stable education, as well as the importance of literacy programs and education support. 

With the learning materials that Mano a Mano, and our teacher Chonita, send to the students, Damaris is learning how to read and write from home. Israel, her older brother is helping her to recognize the sounds and letters of the alphabet. With Israel’s help, Damaris is making progress in her learning. Sending learning materials and homework to students is the most effective way the program has found in maintaining our students' progress. It often keeps them from getting bored at home and offers a familiar routine. Despite the critical situation the world is in at the moment, we must offer some educational support for the generation of the future. 

Damaris coloring and learning the letters
Damaris coloring and learning the letters
Israel and Damaris working on their assignments
Israel and Damaris working on their assignments

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Oliver and Misael reading at home
Oliver and Misael reading at home

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting the globe, the Guatemalan government has put precautions in place to limit the spread of disease. This has obviously affected our work at Cojolya and Mano a Mano por el Desarollo. Schools have been canceled for our students and we are doing our best to work from home. There are also daily curfews that limit the hours people are outside their homes. Our daily rhythms have changed and we are doing our best to keep up with community efforts, and above all, the students that we help through our Mano a Mano program. 

So what are we doing? We are encouraging our students to continue learning from home during these uncertain times. Since none of our students have access to the internet and computers at home, online learning is not a possibility. Instead, we have given students reading comprehension exercises to practice from home. Without the support of our program, many students wouldn’t have a lot to do at home right now. By providing homework, we are seeking a way of continuing our work with them so that they can continue their learning. We don’t want our students falling behind in their studies! This also serves to take care of their mental health and routine in the face of changes caused by this disease. 

Our students are happy and motivated with these at-home activities. They are having to do one reading per day, often doing it together with their family. Two of our students, brothers Misael and Oliver, are practicing their reading together and having fun with the activities. Oliver has had a little trouble managing fluent reading, and for this reason, this activity has been especially helpful in making sure he continues to improve and learn. 

Though these times have brought unexpected restrictions, it has also resulted in unexpected solutions to problems. With many students out of school, we are hoping to continue these homework exercises so students do not fall behind in their education. 

Happy to have work at home!
Happy to have work at home!

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Students learn by playing games and laughing
Students learn by playing games and laughing

Guatemala is a multilingual and multicultural country, in which 25 languages are spoken. The Garífuna language, Xinca, 22 Mayan languages, including our own Tz'utujil, and Spanish. Guatemala's rich cultural heritage draws many visitors to our country each year. Unfortunately, however, in Guatemala, only 5% of people speak English, and at a very low level, so only a few have the possibility to communicate with visitors. It limits people in how they share their culture and learn from others. Conversely, knowing English can greatly expand one's employment opportunities, especially as we see that Guatemala's tourism industry is not slowing down soon. 

If everyone had the opportunity to communicate in the English language, everything would be easier, right? People would have better job opportunities, because there would be more possibilities to create a business, be a guide for tourist groups, or be a master of some type of crafts. There is so much beauty in the diversity of language, but there is also beauty in a common language that allows for the sharing of ideas across the world.  

Because of the increased opportunities that English can provide, our goal for children of Mano a Mano, children of our artisans, is to increase their access to language learning. We hosted a language class this month so students can take the opportunity to improve their English, hoping that one day they will be well prepared to cope with and interact with people from other countries. Personal development through language and academic preparation is key to creating a good future for them. 

Studying in Guatemala can be difficult due to the economic sacrifices a family has to make in order to make it possible. Even once graduated, there is no promise that a student will find gainful employment, help support their family, or rise above poverty. The case is often even worse for girls, as only a quarter of indigenous girls over the age of 16 are still enrolled in school. 

That is why we want to change the fate of the children of artisan weavers. In the future, they could represent their family by creating a business, seeking to amplify the work done by their parents and siblings. People who know how to speak more than one language have greater job opportunities, for example, people who speak the mother tongue Tz’utujil and Spanish, are often engaged in commerce all over Guatemala and are better suited to excelling even in their home community. Simply put, in Guatemala, bilingual and trilingual people live better, so let's make that easier for the next generation by continuing language development programs for children. 

Having fun learning numbers and greetings
Having fun learning numbers and greetings

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Organization Information

Cojolya Association

Location: Santiago Atitlan Solola - Guatemala
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Cojolya
Project Leader:
Jose Sicay Mesia
Santiago Atitlan, Solola Guatemala
$9,600 raised of $15,000 goal
 
213 donations
$5,400 to go
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