The school year ends!

November 24, 2014

Dear friends,

After ten month of classes, fiestas, soccer tournaments, special projects, exams and the entire rainy season, the Guatemalan school year came to a close at the end of October. While the school directors and secretaries are still hard at work finishing the incredible amount of paperwork that the Ministry of Education demands from them, students and teachers are now enjoying a two month break and some graduates are pondering their future.

At the end of October I was fortunate enough to visit Guatemala to attend the graduation ceremonies for the second grade 12 class to graduate in the school we are supporting in the community of El Triunfo as well as the graduation for the grade nine class a week later.

I’m not the type of person who usually gets sentimental about graduation and commencement ceremonies. I seem to remember trying to talk my family members out of attending my last university graduation in the mid 90’s. But on a Saturday afternoon I felt myself tearing up while watching our four graduates on the stage as well as seeing how thrilled their families were in the audience.

Hey they actually gave us the diplomas!

Our four grade twelve graduates with their diplomas.

While it was a small class (a fifth student is currently finishing some course work as well as a work practicum and should be able to receive his diploma in the new year), it was still an important milestone for Maria, Celestina, Isaias and Domingo and their families from communities where relatively few have a high school degree.

Our graduates with a special guest. Their teachers are in the back row.

Our graduates with a special guest. Their teachers are in the back row.

The grade nine graduation, which marked the end of middle school for the graduates, was also a very special day despite the prevailing very cold and rainy weather. (Darn Canadian cold front!)

it was a cold, windy and rainy day.

it was a cold, windy and rainy day.

As the parents walked their sons and daughters up to the stage, I realized that I knew seven of the thirteen families from their work in the community or with the school or with Asociacion Maya, the women’s weaving cooperative I’ve been involved with for 20 years.

hey - I know these people!

hey – I know these people!

There was the daughter of Victor, who has been the president of the economic development committee in the community for the last two years; a son of Antonio, the current indigenous Mayor; a son of Lucas, a Mayan priest; as well as several students who are grandchildren of some of the original members of Asociacion Maya who survived the civil war and the attacks against their community to help form the weaving cooperative in the 1980’s. The only disappointing part of the day is that I couldn’t stay for the meal after the ceremony as I had a bus to catch to begin my journey back to Toronto.

I was entrusted to present 2 of the diplomas.

I presented diplomas to two students at the grade nine graduation.

Check our further photos from the grade 12 graduation here and the grade nine graduation here.

Our support of the school has been critical in its success as it receives very little support from the Ministry of Education. Santos, a teacher in the school and a resident of El Triunfo, told me that the school is gaining a reputation in the area for providing a good education and for having good teachers. “Without your help, the school is not possible,” said Santos as our financial support pays for salaries of the teachers.

Throughout the year donations have lagged behind the monthly expenses. If you haven’t supported the school this year, please consider a donation in the next few weeks.

Your tax deductible donations to the school 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.” (THIS IS IMPORTANT.)

You can also drop off a cheque payable to Pueblito Canada with me or mail one to:

 Pueblito Canada
2238 Dundas St W
Toronto, ON M6R 3A9
ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

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

I hope to have another update for you before the end of the year. In the meantime, curious to see where the school is in Guatemala? You can now find it on Google Maps. Also, I’m pleased to announce the return of my annual holiday sale for Guatemala on December 11th. As usual I’ll have some wonderful scarves, wallets, jackets, purses, coffee and much more available!

See you there.

Ken

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