July 26, 2010
Dear friends, earlier this month I was privileged to attend the third anniversary of the establishment of a middle school in the community of El Triunfo in the highlands of Guatemala.
On July 14, I left Toronto at 8 am and about 12 hours later I was in the community and at the school. Hundreds of people were gathered for an artistic evening filled with comedic skits, dance, music, and of course, the boys were playing with fire. The evening ended with fireworks.
The celebration continued for the next day with more performances by the students. After lunch, the afternoon featured a soccer tournament with games between the school and two other schools from Los Encuentros and Santa Cruz. The tournament was played with games for both the girls and boys.
I received official gifts from each class including two hand-woven bags and a snazzy pair of handmade leather sandals. But throughout the day I was approached by many other students who presented me with additional gifts as they thanked me for supporting the school. There were scarves and even more hand-woven bags including one with the Canadian flag!
The construction of the second floor is progressing. They have finished the concrete block walls and a cement roof, which can serve as the floor for a third level in the future. So far we have sent them $17,000 CDN. In the next few weeks, they will be putting tiles on the floors and painting the walls and ceilings but we still need about $4,000 to buy windows, doors and other accessories. (In case you were wondering, we’re on budget. Last year they presented me with a budget for $20,000 US. We’re going to end up spending around $21,000 CDN. ) We are aiming for everything to be finished by October 8 when I’ll be back at the school for 3 days of events to mark the inauguration of the expansion, which will include separate Catholic and Evangelical Protestant religious ceremonies and another community wide event.
I’ve posted more than 20 new photos of the construction and anniversary to my Flickr page. You can see them at http://www.flickr.com/photos/29121052@N07 I’ve also posted five new videos to YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/kenguate
Since the inception of the project, I’ve been working with the Consejo de Desarrollo Comunitario, an elected 10 member community development council. Antonio, who is the president, and his team have come to the end of their two year term. I’m going to miss working with them. They are fantastic people who have placed the needs of their village first and foremost in everything that they do. I’ve watched them solve problems in a creative and cost-effective manner. For example, two years ago we were faced with the need to secure the school’s newly bought computers. The had the idea to buy a small welding machine and some iron re-bar and were able to fortify the computer room at a fraction of the cost of other suggestions. A new council has already been elected but the community has asked the old council to stay in place until the expansion is inaugurated on October 8.
I want to thank all of you for your ongoing support, both financial and personal. Your notes of encouragement are cherished as much as your financial contributions.
Tax deductable donations can still be directed to Pueblito Canada. My April post, https://guatemalaschool.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/april-update/ , has details on how to give online through Canada Helps or by cheque. When donating online, please remember that Canada Helps fee is now 3.9% of your donation.
On another note, I have been approached by a student in the ninth grade. He has a strong interest in working with and learning more about computers. I’m looking for a gently used laptop that I could give to him. It should be a newer model, which could run a recent version of Windows en espanol. Let me know if you have any thoughts.