December 29, 2015
It’s been quite a year as I marked my 10th anniversary of being involved in education projects in the community of El Triunfo in the department of Sololá in Guatemala. For the last eight years, we’ve been supporting the growth of a middle school, and more recently a high school, which has provided an education for dozens of students who live in El Triunfo and several near-by communities.
The year started off with some pleasant surprises. The first one was discovering Rosa, a former student, was now working in the middle school as the secretary.
Rosa in her office at the middle school.
The second surprise was the super-sized and super-energized grade seven class with 32 students, which was the largest in the school’s history. The class was always fun to visit throughout the year and challenged me with great questions about Canada each time. I’d like to extend special thanks to the Guatemala Project at Ursula Franklin Academy in Toronto for putting together gift bags for this class which were gratefully received by the students. Gift bags for our new grade seven class have already been prepared and the plan is to have the students in Guatemala send messages back to the students at Ursula Franklin.
Our grade seven class with their gift bags from Ursula Franklin.
The annual celebration for the anniversary of the school in July was another opportunity to meet the students, old friends from the community and to make new friends.
Finally I was disappointed to miss the graduation ceremonies in November. It’s always a pleasure to share in this special day with the graduates, their families and the teachers but travel kept me away.
The graduating grade nine class for 2015!
However the year hasn’t been without its challenges. The high school is struggling with persistent low enrolment in the high school as few of our graduating middle school students do not continue their education. Economic pressures for some families forces kids to seek work in the area or in Guatemala City or as far away as the United States. As I pointed out earlier in the year, we did not have a grade 10 class this year so there will not be a grade 11 class next year. But we are hopeful there will be a strong grade 10 class when classes resume next month.
We are also dealing with various issues around the computer lab as new computers, monitors and printers should be purchased soon and the lab still hasn’t been connected to the Internet.
Another challenge for the overall project is the plunge in the Canadian dollar has caused the expenses to increase as the Guatemalan currency has not declined.
Fortunately there are many supporters of the project. I’d like to particularly thank Michele, Margaret and Jennifer for organizing the Fourth Annual Mid-Season Bash in August and for all of those who donated auction prizes and attended the event. The staff and board at Casa Pueblito have been fantastic in their continuing support of the project. I’d also like to thank those who have generously donated to the school over the past year.
If you haven’t made your donation this year, it’s not too late. You can donate online through Casa Pueblito.
(Important: under “Donate To This Charity Now”, please select option #2 “El Triunfo School Project.” You may also wish to indicate that your donation is for Ken’s School in the note.)
You can also mail a cheque payable to Casa Pueblito (please note this is a new address).
107A 2238 Dundas St. W
Toronto, ON M6R 3A9
ATTN: El Triunfo School Project
Please note Casa Pueblito is also in a position to accept donations of securities.
Happy New Year to you and your family and friends!