November Update

November 28, 2012

Dear friends,

While students in Canada have not reached the half-way point of their academic year, October marked the end of studies for students in Guatemala. As is my custom, I visited Guatemala at the end of last month for a brief but rewarding visit. While I missed any official school ceremonies, I was able to connect with many parents, students and others in the community of El Triunfo where we are supporting a middle school and a high school. My visit also coincided with the Day of the Dead, when people in Guatemala honour their departed loved ones. Besides the traditional visit to the cemetery, it is also marked by the flying of kites.  Watch a video here as one family sends their kites skyward.

As you might remember this project, which benefited around 80 students this year, had a modest beginning in 2006 by supporting a handful of students with scholarships to attend school outside of the community. I am delighted to let you know that one of those students graduated from high school on November 3. Glorinda is the first in her family to graduate from school. She took courses to become a business secretary. Her final program assignment was to complete a month-long work term in the office of one of the luxury hotels on the shores of near-by Lake Atitlan, which she successfully did.  Below is a photo of Glorinda with her grandmother and aunt on graduation day. She hopes to pursue further studies in university but is currently evaluating her options. I’ll keep you posted on her progress.

You also might have heard about Guatemala in the news earlier in the month as a massive earthquake shook the country on November 7. All of the people and projects who I work with were unaffected by the quake. The worst of the damage was focused on areas to the west and north of where the school and weaving cooperative is located. But thanks to everyone for your notes and calls of concern.

With the end of the year fast approaching, I’d like to remind you about a few items.

First, I’m holding my annual fair trade sale for Guatemala featuring – weaving from Asociacion Maya, Café Justicia (Guatemalan coffee) and jewelry from Casa Milagro. It’s a perfect time to snap up gifts for the holiday season! I hope to see you on Monday, December 10 at the Rotman School on the UofT campus. Details are here.  Feel free to circulate this to your friends, the more the merrier! I’ll also be in front of St. Lawrence Market (weather permitting) with weaving (which includes scarves, purses, wallets, jackets, placemats, and shawls) on Saturday, Dec 1 and Dec 15.

Secondly, plans are already underway for the 2nd Annual Guatemala Mid-Winter Bash which will take place in February. After the tremendous success of the first event, the organizers are promising to make this one even bigger and better! Watch for an update in the New Year on tickets, the location and more!

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported the project this year finically and if you haven’t made a contribution this year, it’s not too late.  I made my final contribution for the year to the project earlier in the week. Next year marks another milestone in the progression of the project as we add the final year (grade 12) to the high school. There is also an exciting possibility for students to pursue post-secondary studies in the coming years. The University of San Carlos (USAC), the public university in Guatemala, has plans to open a campus in the main town of Solola. This would allow students to pursue studies in a more-affordable setting close to home.

Your tax deductible donations to the school in El Triunfo 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.

Ken

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