November 24, 2011
I’d like to update you on my recent visit to Guatemala to attend the graduation ceremonies for the grade nine class in the school we support.
But first I’d like to invite you to my 7th annual fair trade holiday sale for Guatemala which will take place at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto on December 8 from 10 am to 7 pm. The sale will feature Guatemalan weaving from Asociación Maya de Desarrollo, Solola, Guatemala; Fair trade coffee from the El Paraíso Co-operative of the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA), Guatemala; and jewelry from Casa Milagro, Guatemala. Complete details, including photos of some of the items for sale, are online. I hope to see you there.
At the end of October, I flew to Guatemala for the first time in several months. The school year for the students in both the middle and high schools had come to a close. I had missed the activities to mark the end of the school year in the high school but on October 31 I attended the graduation ceremonies for our grade nine class. By now I’m used to the weighty beginnings to many of the special events at the school with a procession of flags followed by the Guatemalan national anthem. Sigh. But today was a special day. In the opening procession, every one of the sixteen graduating students was accompanied by at least one of their parents as they took their seats. The parental involvement continued when the students received their diploma as the students were called forward, their parents joined them. The day concluded with a class photo followed by a meal. More photos from the day are online here.
Plans are now underway for the 2012 school year which will begin in January. Between the middle and high schools, we will have classes in grades seven through eleven. Recruitment is ongoing in near-by villages to seek students for both schools. While in the community, I had the opportunity to speak with two students who are headed into grade eleven next year, Rosa and her brother Jose. They told me that at the start of the school year, they were apprehensive about the curriculum in the high school which has a focus in business and accounting. For both students, the school was a second choice as Rosa wanted to go to secretary school and Jose wanted to study at a school with a focus on phys-ed. But there was no room for more students at those schools in the nearby city of Solola and the financial situation of their family meant that the school in El Triunfo was their only realistic choice. After a couple of months taking the business curriculum, they realized they enjoyed the challenges the new classes were providing. By the end of the school year, they were able to proudly show me their final report cards which had grades in the 80’s and 90’s in most of their courses!
The rest of my visit went quickly by in series of meetings to get caught up on the paperwork for the school, a visit to another near-by project, repeated visits to Juan’s computer store to get three donated laptops the necessary software in Spanish, and a visit to the cemetery in Solola to celebrate the Day of the Dead. On November 1, families gather in the cemetery to remember friends and family members who have died. The tombs of their ancestors are freshly painted and decorated with flowers and offerings of food and drink while the living enjoy a meal (and maybe a drink!) I didn’t take photos on this trip but here’s a photo from November 2, 2008 in the same cemetery.
As the year is coming to a close, please remember to donate to the project so that Rosa and Jose and their classmates can continue to receive an education. With your support, we can ensure that all of the bills are paid this year and that we have money on hand to begin 2012. Tax deductible donations to the project 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.
I’ll be headed back to Guatemala in a few weeks and I’ll send you an update before the end of the year.