September Update – Good news for the grade 12 class!

September 14, 2014

Dear friends, while students in Canada have just returned to school, the school year in Guatemala is coming to the end of the year. On October 25, I’ll be in Guatemala for the graduation of the 2nd grade 12 school at the school we’re supporting in the community of El Triunfo. It should be a great day and it will be wonderful to be with the students, their parents, and the staff of the school.

Grade 12 Class

I also received some great news about the grade 12 class. Earlier in the year I told you about their main project for the year which had an agricultural focus. The project recently wrapped up and our students were selected as having the best project in the entire department of Solola! Congratulations to the students as well as the teachers!

Last month in Toronto, many of you attended or supported the Third Annual Guatemalan Mid-Season Bash. I’m pleased to report that it was a great success raising just over $4,000 (the amount needed to pay the teachers for a month). Special thanks go out to Michele and Margaret for their organizational skills as well as Jennifer for her help. In addition, I’d like to thank everyone who attended or contributed items for the silent auction. And for those of you who couldn’t attend but told us you would contribute, it’s still not too late!

Your ongoing support is greatly appreciated by the students, teachers and parents in El Triunfo. Your tax deductible donations to the school can be directed to Pueblito Canada.

You can donate online at

http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=25964

(Click on “Donate Now.” Then under “Fund/Designation,” select “El Triunfo School Project.”  Or you can also send a cheque payable to Pueblito Canada to:

Pueblito Canada
@ The Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7
ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

For more information on Pueblito and the other projects they support in Central America, please visit www.pueblito.org.

Ken

Update for August and an Invitation!

August 13, 2014

Dear friends, Last month I visited the community of El Triunfo for the anniversary of the establishment of the middle school and high school we’re supporting.

The election of the senoritas for the middle school and high school.

The election of the senoritas for the middle school and high school.

This annual event is always a wonderful opportunity for me to visit and spend time with the many students, teachers and families I’ve gotten to know over the years. It’s also a chance for the students to impress me and entertain the community with their creativity and energy in a number of musical and dance performances as well as skits.

A highlight of the anniversary are the many performance of dance, music and comedy by the students.

A highlight of the anniversary are the many performance of dance, music and comedy by the students.

This month the school is immersed in activities for the annual fair in Sololá which is taking place this week in honour of the town’s patron saint, La Virgen de la Asunción. But work also continues on finishing the school’s computer lab before the end of the school year in October.

With friends

With friends.

You can see more pictures from the anniversary here.

Another highlight is a soccer tournament against neighbouring schools. We won both the boys and girls competitions!

Another highlight is a soccer tournament against neighbouring schools. We won both the boys and girls competitions!

Your support of the school is greatly appreciated by the students, teachers and parents in El Triunfo. There’s a chance this month for you to have some fun and to make a contribution.

You are invited to attend the Third Annual Guatemalan Mid-Season Bash!  It started in winter migrated to spring and has now landed in summer.  Most importantly it remains a significant fundraiser for the school. Here are the details.

When: Thursday August 21
Doors and Silent Auction Open at 6:00pm, Finger foods starting at 6:30pm, Silent Auction closes at 9:00 pm, socializing until the wee hours.
Tickets: suggested minimum donation of $30 per person or donation of your choice (children under 10 are free)
Where: Lolita’s Lust & The Chinchilla Lounge, 513 Danforth Ave., Toronto (South side of Danforth, between Chester and Pape Subway stations) Dinner is also available a la carte or a special prix fixe. 

Please let me know if you can attend or donate something for the silent auction. Tickets to sporting events would be especially appreciated. If you can’t attend but still would like to make a donation, follow the instructions below.

Your tax deductible donations to the school can be directed to Pueblito Canada.

You can donate online at http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=25964 (Click on “Donate Now.” Then under “Fund/Designation,” select “El Triunfo School Project.” (THIS IS IMPORTANT.) Or you can also send a cheque payable to Pueblito Canada to:

Pueblito Canada
@ The Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7
ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

 For more information on Pueblito and the other projects they support in Central America, please visit www.pueblito.org.

Hope to see you at the bash!

Ken

 

You’re Invited! Third Annual Guatemalan Mid-Season Bash

You are invited to attend the Third Annual Guatemalan Mid-Season Bash!  It started in winter migrated to spring and has now landed in summer.  Most importantly it remains:

A fundraiser for the El Triunfo Project in Guatemala

Our grade 12 class  this year.

Why:  Because every child has the right to an education.
Tickets:  suggested donation of $30 per person or donation of your choice (children under  10 are free)
When:  Thursday August 21, 2014
Doors and Silent Auction Open at 6:00pm, Finger foods starting at 6:30pm, Silent Auction Closes at 9:00 pm, Socializing until the wee hours.
WhereLolita’s Lust & The Chinchilla Lounge 513 Danforth Ave., Toronto  (South side of Danforth, between Chester and Pape Subway stations)
http://www.dine.to/profile_features.php?feature=profile_map&id=3185
Dinner is also available a la carte or a special prix fixe.

Please consider attending this fundraiser. Bring a friend and don’t forget to tell me you’re coming.

If you would like to donate something for the silent auction, let me know!

Ken’s Fourth Annual Driveway Sale for Guatemala

Join me for this annual sale featuring Guatemalan weaving from Asociación Maya de Desarrollo, Solola, Guatemala; Fair trade coffee from the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA), Guatemala; and jewelry from Casa Milagro, Guatemala.

Featuring weaving demonstrations by Maria Xoch Ajacalon from Asociación Maya

Maria Xoch Ajcalon

Saturday, June 21
8:30 am to 4:00 pm
772 Coxwell Avenue (north of Danforth Avenue and Coxwell subway station)
Toronto

For more information: Ken McGuffin, mcguffin@rotman.utoronto.ca / 416-946-3818

Proceeds from the weaving and coffee sales will be directed to the El Triunfo Education Project which provides an affordable education for the sons and daughters of weavers from Asociacion Maya through the establishment of a middle school and a high school in the village of El Triunfo, Guatemala. For more information or how to make a tax deductible donation to the project, please visit http://guatemalaschool.wordpress.com

Save the date – a fundraiser for education in Guatemala!

It started as a winter bash, continued as a spring bash, now save the date for a summer bash in support of children’s education in Guatemala. On Thursday, August 21 beginning from 6 pm, join us at Lolita’s Lust on the Danforth for a great party with friends, drinks, appetizers and a silent auction.  Tickets on sale soon!

All proceeds to the El Triunfo School project which is providing a middle school and high school education to Mayan youth in the community of El Triunfo in the highlands of Guatemala.  Can’t make it? Read the next post for information on how to donate today.

Ups (mostly) and Downs of the School in Guatemala

June 1, 2014

Dear friends,

As we start the last month of the Canadian school year, the Guatemalan school year has reached the halfway point.

With your support, the project to support a middle school and a high school in the community of El Triunfo continues to astound, amaze but also frustrate me.

First, here’s some good news. I’ve received several inquiries about the status of the students from our first grade twelve class which graduated last year. This was one of the questions I wanted to find the answer to as I visited Guatemala over the May 24th holiday weekend.

I’m thrilled to report that all six graduates are working including one of the boys in the regional office of a large Mexican cement company and one of the girls with a law office. Antonio, the director of the high school, told me, “It was a small class but they were well prepared for work.” This is a really significant achievement for these six students and their families with meagre financial resources. As one current grade nine student told, “This school is a big help for me as my family doesn’t have the resources to send me to the private school.”

All six of these students are working this year!

All six of these graduates are working this year!

The achievement of the students has not been limited to the classroom and the workplace. In recent weeks, teams of girls from both the middle school and high school have won district wide soccer tournaments.

Here's the grade eight class. The girls are holding a trophy they recently won in a soccer tournament.

Here’s the grade eight class. The girls are holding a trophy they recently won in a soccer tournament.

A project to build a new computer lab is also underway thanks to the support of the Municipality of Sololá, the government of the Department of Sololá as well as some private donations. The project is still short some funds but they hope to have the resources in place shortly.

Computer Lab Construction

Computer Lab Construction

The current grade twelve class continues to work on their main project for the year which has a focus on natural foods and agricultural projects this year.

Our grade 12 class  this year.

Our grade 12 class this year.

But there are aspects of the project which are extremely frustrating. While both schools are required to jump through many of the bureaucratic hoops required by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry has provided few financial resources for the project. Last year, the project received a small amount of funding each month, including a portion of the salaries for the teachers. This year, I was told that the project has received nothing from the Ministry, which is extremely disappointing. Fortunately the teachers are still very happy to be working at the school and are very motivated in their work, part of which is the result of the training they received from one of the partners of Pueblito Canada last year. Hopefully some funding from the Ministry will arrive at the school in the near future.

You can check out additional photos from my May trip here.

I’m looking forward to attending the anniversary of the establishment of the middle school which will take placed from July 17 to 19. This community-wide celebration is always a fun event.

It’s been exciting to hear about the jobs that the graduates of the school have found. With your financial support, we can ensure that the current students can also graduate and look for employment opportunities that would not be available to them without this education.

Your donations are greatly appreciated by the students, teachers and parents in El Triunfo. Your tax deductible donations to the school can be directed to Pueblito Canada.

You can donate online at http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=25964 (Click on “Donate Now.” Then under “Fund/Designation,” select “El Triunfo School Project.” Or you can also send a cheque payable to Pueblito Canada to:

Pueblito Canada
@ The Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7
ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

For more information on Pueblito and the other projects they support in Central America, please visit www.pueblito.org.

Hope to see you soon.

Ken

PS – Special thanks to Roanie & Eytan and family for their ongoing campaign to raise funds for the school!

Update for April 2014

April 21, 2014

Dear friends, it’s been a while since my last update on the middle school and high school we’re supporting in the community of El Triunfo, Guatemala. In the months since my last update, I’ve visited Guatemala twice, the new school year has begun and the school continues to make some progress in its growth and development.

After surviving the ice storm which gripped Toronto at Christmas, I safely made my way to Guatemala. I had planned the trip so that I might be able to be at the school for the first day of school. However on my arrival in the country, I was informed that the Ministry of Education has decided that the first day of school would be January 16, the day after I was leaving the country. Sigh. There went that plan for another year.

On January 2 I visited to the school for the first of two meetings at the school, which included the participation of Lucio, the new indigenous mayor of the community, who was sworn into office along with 68 other “alcaldes indígenas” in Solola on New Year’s Day. For those of you who have been supporting my adventures for a number of years, Lucio and his family received support from us to rebuild in 2005 after their house was partially destroyed during Hurricane Stan.

At the school I met with members of the members of the COCODE (the community’s economic development council), Santos who is a teacher as well as Lucio.

Meeting with the COCODE, Lucio, and Santos in El Triunfo on January 2

Meeting with the COCODE, Lucio, and Santos in El Triunfo on January 2

I was pleased to see that the washroom project which you supported had been completed and the school directors and teachers were returning for their first day of work of the new year.

the washroom project which we funded with donations in November and December is complete and ready to use for the start of the school year!

the washroom project which we funded with donations in November and December is complete and ready to use for the start of the school year!

Last year the municipality of Sololá along with the Ministry of Education had funded an expansion of the school building adding much needed classroom and meeting space but also failed to fund the equipment and furniture needed to fill the classrooms. I had hoped that the school would find funding for the most crucial needs but I learnt that they were still of need of basic items like desks and chairs. So I decided to dig deep into my bank accounts and go shopping to purchase the needed items and worry about raising the money for the items later. On January 7, a group of us headed to the city of Quetzaltenango to do a little bit of shopping. There was a good omen on the road as we headed to the city. During the day, we purchased 4 whiteboards, 6 teacher desks, 6 teacher chairs, 2 projectors, one screen and a bunch of plastic chairs.

Some of the purchases we made for the school.

Some of the purchases we made for the school.

Where do you go to buy plastic chairs? Plastilandia of course.

Plastilandia!

(But I also wondered what you could buy here?)

The next day I returned to the school accompanied by my good friend Javier  from Toronto and we once again met the teachers who were delighted to see the purchases of the previous day.

A few weeks after my return to Toronto, I was told about the enrollment numbers for the year. The school had put much work into trying to attract new students to the school. A big new sign was posted on the highway at the road leading into the community.

New Sign!

They took to the airwaves of a community radio station to promote the school and distributed flyers and posters to other villages. During my January visits in El Triunfo I saw parents waiting at the school to register their children and also saw parents and students walking into the community for the same purpose. So it came as a bit of a disappointment that the enrollment is only slightly higher than last year at around 80 students. I had expected that the numbers would be a little higher. I was told that the enrollment in this level of education (middle and high school) is down across the country. In El Triunfo, some families may be short of resources and have chosen to keep children at home. In addition, a handful of families with resources have sent students to other schools to pursue a different curriculum such as nursing, teaching or computers. But it is still an achievement to be providing an education to the students who are enrolled in the school.

In March I returned to Guatemala for some fun at the beach, which included a trip on a very small boat to see dolphins and a return visit to the school in time for Carnival! As mandated by the Ministry of Education, the schools in Guatemala mark the last day before Lent with a celebration.   In El Triunfo, there was dancing, skits and some clowning around.

Clowning around at Carnival!

Clowning around at Carnival!

While the community continues to look for financial support for various projects in the village and the school such as improvements to the unpaved road leading down into the village, we are still responsible for the majority of the salaries for the teachers, directors and secretaries in both the middle school and high school. While students do pay a modest fee of about $3 per month to attend the school, this is much more affordable than the private schools located outside of the community.

This year we’ve already bought the much needed supplies and furniture for the school in January and paid the teachers for the months of January, February and March.

Your ongoing support is greatly appreciated by the students, teachers and parents in El Triunfo. As in the past, your tax deductible donations to the school can be directed to Pueblito Canada.

You can donate online at  http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=25964  (Click on “Donate Now.” Then under “Fund/Designation,” select “El Triunfo School Project.”  Or you can also send a cheque payable to Pueblito Canada to:

 Pueblito Canada
@ The Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7
ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

For more information on Pueblito and the other projects they support in Central America, please visit www.pueblito.org.

You can check out the complete set of photos from Carnival online as well as all of my photos from the trip to the beach plus videos from Carnival and the beach.

Ken