This year is the third year that, thanks to your generosity, we have supported a middle school in the small village of El Triunfo in the highlands of Guatemala. Our funds cover the costs to pay the teachers and school director each month and also provides a small scholarship to each student. The Guatemalan school year is on a different schedule than the one we are used to in Canada beginning in January and finishing by November. In February I had the opportunity to visit the school after classes were started.
There are 65 students enrolled in the school this year – 25 in grade nine, 22 in grade eight and 18 very excited and energetic kids in grade seven. Most of the students in the school tend to be a bit shy when speaking to me but the new students in grade seven do not have that problem. I’ve posted a photo of myself with the class to www.flickr.com/photos/29121052@N07/ along with a few other new photos.
Plans are well underway for the school expansion project I mentioned to you in my last letter. The expansion will provide the classroom space needed to start a high school next year. I have some good news to share with you. The high school has been approved by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education and the municipality of Solola has agreed to support the project by paying the wages of the fathers in the community who will be doing the construction work. It is very gratifying to see this support from the local government. I am especially thankful for this considering the municipality is facing the same fiscal restraints as governments around the world.
We have a significant amount of the $20,000 needed for the construction materials raised or pledged. Plus we have enough money on hand to pay the teachers’ salaries for the next few months but we still can use your help. Your donations have helped to provide an affordable middle school education and beginning in January 2011, will provide an affordable high school education to students, who probably otherwise couldn’t afford to be in school. I’ve made a personal $2,000 donation to the project this year and will be contributing another $1,000 later in the year.
Donations to the project can be directed to Pueblito Canada. If you haven’t made your donation for 2010, please consider doing so now. You can donate online at 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:
El Triunfo School Project
The Centre for Social Innovation
Suite 165 – 215 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7
I will be leaving for Guatemala tomorrow morning and hope to send out another update in the coming weeks.
In addition to my work with the school and Asociacion Maya De Desarrollo (the women’s weaving cooperative based in El Triunfo), I also work with a coffee cooperative in Guatemala. Here’s a story from the Toronto Star about my friend Leocadio Juracan and his organization. www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/791024–fiorito-a-cup-of-coffee-and-a-death-threat-on-the-side If you’re interested in purchasing coffee, send me a note.
Thanks for your support.