Update for June 2011

June 17, 2011

 Dear friends, earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit Guatemala and the school we are supporting in the community of El Triunfo. The school provides a middle and high school education for almost seventy students in grades seven, eight, nine and ten from ten different villages in the region.

 During the visit, I met with the COCODE (economic development committee) of the village which oversees the school (more on this in a bit) and had a chance to talk with some of the students, teachers and school directors. You can see some of my photos from the school (including photos of each class) online at www.flickr.com/photos/29121052@N07.

 The COCODE has also worked this spring to improve the governance of the middle and high schools. Under Guatemalan law, the schools are community cooperatives and must each have a board of directors with representation from the COCODE, parents, teachers, and the municipality. New boards were appointed in March and are now holding regular meetings with the parents of the students.

Plans are proceeding for a three-day celebration in July to make the anniversary of the establishment of the school as well as to mark the expansion of the school building which you made possible with your donations last year. While the travel seminar I mentioned in my earlier messages has been cancelled for this year, I will attend the celebration and do my best to represent all of you. If you happen to be in Guatemala during July, please let me know and I can make arrangements for you to attend the event. It will take place from July 13 to 15. (You don’t have to commit to attending all three days!)

We also are exploring the possibility of starting a pre-school or kindergarten class in 2012, at the urging of a new friend who is interested in volunteering with the school next year. (Thanks Vivian!) The current primary school, which is fully supported by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education, only offers grade one to six. Over the next few months, we will look into what resources will be needed to start this and what services should be offered in addition to the classroom instruction, such as a lunch or breakfast program. This first exposure to the classroom, which is now taken for granted elsewhere in Canada and many places in Guatemala, would give students an earlier start to learning Spanish and will help them immensely in their academic careers. In these communities the students speak a Mayan language at home and do not learn Spanish until they attend school. I’ll keep you posted as these plans start to develop.

If you haven’t made a donation to the school this year, please consider doing so. Your support is providing an affordable educational opportunity for the students in this community. Very few of their parents had the opportunity to attend school but now these students have the chance to complete a high school education with a specialization in business and accounting. Donations to the project can be directed to Pueblito Canada. 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:

 Pueblito Canada
El Triunfo School Project
The Centre for Social Innovation
Suite 400 – 215 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7

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

 I’ll send another update next month and will also post new photos to my Flickr page while I’m in Guatemala.

 Ken

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