August 26, 2013
Dear friends, Last month I had the opportunity to spend more than a week in Guatemala visiting friends but more importantly taking part in the annual anniversary celebrations for the education project we are supporting in the community of El Triunfo, Solola, Guatemala. From providing a handful of students with scholarships to attend school away from the community, the project has grown to include both a middle school and a high school with students enrolled from grade 6 to grade 12. The physical space of the school has also grown from 2008 to today as seen below.
When I was first approached earlier in the year by members of the COCODE (the community’s economic development council) regarding their plans for this year’s anniversary, they had wanted to hold a three day extravaganza. While I always enjoy a good party, I have learned over the years that the students are asked to contribute towards the celebration. With that in mind, I suggested that this year’s event should be a more modest one day affair. Eventually we compromised on a 2-day anniversary with the costs largely covered by the donations of local businesses. So on July 17, I arrived in the community for a sports day. Teams from three different communities participated in a soccer and basketball tournament. While the games were fun, I was more intrigued by a project from the grade 12 students. Evelyn, one of the teachers, pulled me aside to take me upstairs to show me. She revealed that for a capstone project the students are learning how to grow mushrooms for food and also teaching women from the community to grow mushrooms for their families and also to sell the extra crop in the local market. While I’ve seen other projects come and go in the community I hope this one can continue. I’ll let you know if it requires any outside support.
The main activity of day two of the anniversary was the election of the school’s three senoritas (senorita del instituto, senorita deportes (sports) and senorita cultura) and several dance performances. The afternoon concluded with fireworks and firecrackers and a dinner for the teachers, the COCODE and other invited guests including myself.
You can see more photos from the anniversary here.
The next milestone for the project will be the graduation of the first grade 12 class later this fall and I hope to return to Guatemala to participate in the event. It will be the culmination of a good year for the project which included the completion of an expansion supported by the local municipal government and the donation of computers from a private company. Next week with the support of Pueblito Canada, four teachers from El Triunfo will be taking part in a workshop with another partner organization of Pueblito in Nicaragua called FUNARTE which trains teachers to use interactive, arts-based teaching methods.
While the COCODE continues to look for material and financial support for the school from other sources, your tax deductible donations to the school in El Triunfo are greatly valued and needed. Each month your donations are sent to Guatemala to pay for the majority of the salaries of the eight teachers and administrators in the high school and the nine teachers in the middle school. Donations 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
I’d also like to let you know that Maria Xoch Ajcalon, a weaver and production manager with Asociacion Maya de Desarrollo in the community of El Triunfo, will return to Toronto in late September for two weeks. If you’d like to host an event with Maria, please let me know. She can demonstrate the art of backstrap weaving as well as discuss how the school project is benefiting her family as several of her nieces and nephews are students in the school.
See you soon!