April 29, 2012
I spent the first two weeks of the month in Guatemala. Not only was it Easter week with all of the processions and pageantry which takes place in this highly Catholic country, it’s also considered to be summer before the rainy season returns in a few weeks – although I did see my fair share of rain. The newspapers, radio and television stations are filled with ads promoting the cerveza or soft drink or the latest product of summer. And it also seems like that half of the country heads to the beach.
While on my trip I did see my share of processions (video and photo) and I spent a few days at the beach the week after Easter when it is much quieter, the main purpose of my trip was to visit the school we are supporting in the community of El Triunfo.
The school year started in September with classes from seven to nine in the middle school and in grades ten and eleven in the high school. The students in the high school are studying an accounting/business curriculum with classes in accounting, math, economics, law, computers and English.
This year I am slightly disappointed as enrollment has dipped as there are eighty students in the middle and high schools, the same as last year, even though a grade was added. But I was grateful to find out that most of the “missing” students are continuing their studies elsewhere. This includes a couple of the older students who are now working but are studying the same curriculum in another school on Saturdays.
The administration of the school is fairly confident that enrollment should increase over the next few years as there are currently 170 students attending classes in the community’s primary school (grades one to six) and an additional 22 students in the pre-primary class.
There are some new teachers in the school this year. It is interesting to see that most of them are Mayan and either speak the same language, Kaqchikel, which is spoken in the community or Quiche, another Mayan language. One of the middle school teachers, Santos Tzorin, is actually from El Triunfo.
You can see photos from the school here, including pictures of each class, except for the grade ten class. On the day previous to my visit, the students had participated in a festival, which included a very competitive soccer tournament, with several other schools which took place at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala Campus Altiplano in Solola. As a result, several of the students had taken a sick day on the day of my visit, including most of the grade ten class. I’ll get a photo of them on my next visit.
I also had the chance on to visit the community of Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn) which is located near the crossroads of Cocales on the country’s southern coastal plain. Surrounded by sugar cane fields, the community has grown over the decades on what used to be the country’s railroad. With the support of my friends in the Comite Campesino del Altiplano and the purchase of Café Justicia by Canadians, the community’s school has continued to grow. Recently, a group of high school students from Vancouver helped with repairs on the school – you can see the before and after photos here. If you are interested in purchasing Café Justicia, please send me a note.
I hope to return to Guatemala later in our summer. The celebrations for the anniversary of the establishment of the school will be held on July 18. While all of you can’t possibly be there, I hope to represent you all in spirit for the tremendous support you have given the project over the years.
While we hope to receive more support for the project from the Guatemalan government, currently it’s up to us to pay the bulk of the salaries of the teachers each month.
Tax deductible donations to the school in El Triunfo 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 @ 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’m also looking for opportunities to speak about the school and my work with selling weaving for Asociacion Maya De Desarrollo and also selling Café Justica. If you know of any community organizations, churches or even a group of friends who would like to find out more about Guatemala, please let me know!
See you soon.