Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Holiday Sale for Guatemala

November 22, 2017

Hello everyone, some of you have been asking if I will be holding my annual holiday sale for Guatemala.

The answer is that I will be taking part in a larger sale at UofT’s Rotman School of Management on Friday, December 1 from 11 am to 5 pm. I’ll be joining 30 vendors from the Rotman community showcasing unique gift ideas for everyone on your nice list. There will also be food, kid-friendly activities and a special guest (the fat man in red) will also make an appearance. Full details are online.  I’ll be there will the clothing and accessories from Asociacion Maya de Desarrollo in Sololá, fairly traded coffee from Guatemala as well as jewelry from Casa Milagro. Feel free to share with your friends and family.

And as requested here’s a photo from the graduation of the grade nine class on November 6. Gregorio, the school director, told me this week that enrollment has started for the new school year which begins in January.

Graduation 2017

Grade Nine Graduation – November 6, 2017

 

Thank you for your ongoing support of the school. Your donations are used to pay the salaries of the teachers each month. You can donate online through Casa Pueblito or mail in a cheque. (A cheque actually ensures that more of your money goes directly to the school!)But here’s the link for online donations –

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/casa-pueblito/

(If you are donating online please follow: under “Donate To This Charity Now”, please select option #2 “El Triunfo School Project.” You may also wish to indicate that your donation is for Ken’s School in the note.)

You can also mail a cheque payable to Casa Pueblito or drop one off with me.

Casa Pueblito

107A 2238 Dundas St. W

Toronto, ON M6R 3A9

ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

Thank you and I hope to see you next week at the sale!

Ken

 

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My August Visit to the School

October 29, 2017

Dear friends,

Can you believe it? The year has ended for the middle school we are supporting in the community of El Triunfo in Guatemala. Classes concluded earlier this month and the graduation ceremony for the grade nine class will be held on November 6.

On my last visit to the school in August, I was very pleasantly surprised to see enrollment had more or less held steady in all three grades. This means the school is bucking some local and national trends which shows school enrolment at this level is dropping. Throughout the year, I was expecting to see some of the boys in grade who were older and larger than their classmates to disappear but they hadn’t. It was quite rewarding to see them still in school as I’ve seen many kids over the years drop-out for work or family reasons.

Grade 9

Our grade nine class

 

You can see some photos from my visit to Guatemala from the school and when I went to a soccer game on what turned out to be a very rainy day in Solola here.

A recent interview (Spanish) with an official with the United Nations Development Program discussed how Guatemala is the only Latin American country not to have reduced poverty over the past two decades and in fact poverty is increasing with around 65% of the Guatemala population living in poverty. In indigenous communities, the poverty level is much higher. Around five years ago many of the families with children in the school could benefit from a program which paid them a cash bonus each month if their children were registered in school and had received all of their immunizations. The program was based on a highly successful program in Brazil. While reports say that the program continues in Guatemala, it has not been available to the people of El Triunfo for a number of years. (When I asked why the program isn’t available anymore I was told, “We voted for the wrong candidate for President.”)

On a brighter note, one of the highlights of the school since its inception has been the large numbers of girls who have been studied in the school. I was thinking about this recently on the International Day of the Girl on October 11. This project started off over ten years by supporting two young women with scholarship and continues to support the aspirations of many young women who wish to pursue an education.

Grade 7

Our Grade 7 Class

 

Thank you for your ongoing support of the school. Your donations are used to pay the salaries of the teachers each month. You can donate online through Casa Pueblito or mail in a cheque. (A cheque actually ensures that more of your money goes directly to the school!) But here’s the link for online donations –

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/casa-pueblito/

(If you are donating online please follow: under “Donate To This Charity Now”, please select option #2 “El Triunfo School Project.” You may also wish to indicate that your donation is for Ken’s School in the note.)

You can also mail a cheque payable to Casa Pueblito or drop one off with me.

 Casa Pueblito

107A 2238 Dundas St. W

Toronto, ON M6R 3A9

ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

Thank you! And I hope to share some graduation photos with you next month.

Ken

It’s a Sale for Guatemala!

Join me for this semi-annual sale featuring Guatemalan weaving from Asociación Maya de Desarrollo, Solola, Guatemala; Fair trade coffee from the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA), Guatemala; and jewelry from Casa Milagro, Guatemala.

Featuring weaving demonstrations by Maria Xoch Ajacalon from Asociación Maya

Maria Xoch Ajcalon

Saturday, September 23

9:00 am to 3:00 pm

772 Coxwell Avenue (north of Danforth Avenue and Coxwell subway station)

Toronto

For more information: Ken McGuffin, mcguffin@rotman.utoronto.ca / 416-466-7594

Donations will also be accepted for the El Triunfo Education Project which provides an affordable education for the sons and daughters of weavers from Asociacion Maya through the establishment of a middle school in the village of El Triunfo, Guatemala. For more information or how to make a tax deductible donation to the project, please visit https://guatemalaschool.wordpress.com

July Update on the School

July 24, 2017

Dear friends, usually when you receive an update from me at this time of the year, I’m in Guatemala. However this year I had to change my travel plans so I won’t be in Guatemala until this time next month.  This meant for the first time I missed the annual celebrations for the anniversary of the school. This year’s event took place last week so I missed out on the sports day, the musical and dance performances and some of the other fun! Remember El Toro?

El Torito!

yes – under the sparks there is a person!

Last week Casa Pueblito held a fundraiser for the organization with a screening of Finding Oscar. Thank you for everyone who turned out. The documentary, which I highly recommend, is now available on video on demand including iTunes. Find out more online. One interesting aspect is that the story of the Dos Erres massacre is still playing out in courtrooms in Canada, United States and Guatemala.

Oscar

Finding Oscar

 

I want to thank you for your ongoing support of the school in El Triunfo. We’re more than half way through the school year which ends in October in Guatemala. Your donations are used to pay the salaries of the teachers each month plus provide a scholarship to one student in university this year. You can donate online through Casa Pueblito or mail in a cheque. (A cheque actually ensures that more of your money goes directly to the school!) But here’s the link for online donations –

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/casa-pueblito/

(If you are donating online please follow: under “Donate To This Charity Now”, please select option #2 “El Triunfo School Project.” You may also wish to indicate that your donation is for Ken’s School in the note.)

You can also mail a cheque payable to Casa Pueblito or drop one off with me.

 Casa Pueblito

107A 2238 Dundas St. W

Toronto, ON M6R 3A9

ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

Thank you and watch for an update from Guatemala next month!

Ken

A May Update on the School

May 7, 2016

Dear friends,

In a few days I will be headed to Guatemala to visit the school in the community of El Triunfo we have been supporting. I’m looking forward to the visit as I enjoy the opportunity to meet the students, their teachers and the community members involved in the school.

Welcome!

Utz Ipetik!

 

There are currently around 60 students in grades seven, eight and nine. While I was disappointed on my February trip to find out that there are kids I know not in the school for various reasons, I am still thankful there are many more who are attending classes. This includes many familiar faces who are following in the footsteps of older sisters and brothers.

Grade 7

Our Grade 7 Class for 2017

 

I am also thankful for your ongoing financial support. The decline of the Canadian loonie and the persistent annoying strength of the Guatemalan quetzal (the local currency) means that it’s costing a little bit more each month to ensure that the teachers get paid.

You can donate online through Casa Pueblito or mail in a cheque. (A cheque actually ensures that more of your money goes directly to the school!) But here’s the link for online donations –

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/casa-pueblito/

(If you are donating online please follow: under “Donate To This Charity Now”, please select option #2 “El Triunfo School Project.” You may also wish to indicate that your donation is for Ken’s School in the note.)

You can also mail a cheque payable to Casa Pueblito or drop one off with me.

 Casa Pueblito

107A 2238 Dundas St. W

Toronto, ON M6R 3A9

ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

 

 Thank you everyone! Ken

A New School Year in Guatemala

February 18, 2017

Dear friends,

A few weeks ago the school year started in the middle school in the community of El Triunfo in Guatemala. For more than ten years we’ve been supporting education projects in the community and the experience has had its ups and downs. But I’m always excited about the start of a new school year and it made me even happier when I found out that the middle school has more students than it did at this time last year. Currently there are fifty-eight students in grades seven, eight and nine with the expectation that a few more students will register in the forthcoming days.

DSC_0760

Students from the middle school in El Trunfo

While we are no longer supporting a high school in the community, I am also excited about a new phase in the project. This year we’re going to start to provide scholarships to students from El Triunfo who are attending high school or university. Over the past few months, I’ve discovered that there are students who have pursued an education outside of the community. Many of these students in high school are pursuing studies which have put them on track to attend university. I’ve also discovered that several of these students have reached the end of the financial resources they have available to continue to study. With these scholarships we’re going to start small by only offering a handful of scholarships this year. If you are interested in funding a student this year or next year, please let me know.

You can donate online through Casa Pueblito or mail in a cheque. (A cheque actually ensures that more of your money goes directly to the school!) But here’s the link for online donations – https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/casa-pueblito/

(If you are donating online please follow: under “Donate To This Charity Now”, please select option #2 “El Triunfo School Project.” You may also wish to indicate that your donation is for Ken’s School in the note.)

You can also mail a cheque payable to Casa Pueblito (please note this is a new address).

 Casa Pueblito

107A 2238 Dundas St. W

Toronto, ON M6R 3A9

ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

 Thank you everyone! Ken

Graduation Day 2016!

December 26, 2016

Happy holidays everyone, I hope you are all enjoying the season whether celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah or simply spending time with your friends and family.

I’m writing from Guatemala where exactly a month ago a special celebration was held for the graduation of the high school class in the school in the community of El Triunfo.

It was a wonderful privilege to be able to attend and share in the excitement and joy with our six graduates, Carmen, Marcela, Silvia, Delfina, Carlos and, Miguel, along with their families which included parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters as well as their friends.

class

Our Grade 12 Graduates! (with the school director, teachers and an invited guest above)

The events of the morning began with a mass which was followed by the ceremony. As usual, the proceedings were a touch too formal for me and included a flag procession, the playing of the national anthem, words of greetings from community leaders, teachers,  the school director Antonio, the middle school director, a representative of the Ministry of Education (in Kaqchiquel  and Spanish) and the guest from Canada (in his version of Spanish), which was all interspersed with musical segments courtesy of the Municipal band from Sololá (which has previously made other appearances at the school.)

But eventually the fun started with the presentation of the diplomas. As the name of each graduate was announced, there was a rush to the stage by their family with cellphones ready to capture the moment. This was followed by Marcela who spoke on behalf of the class who thanked the school director, their teachers, their parents as well as the school’s friends in Canada for their support.

dsc_0141

Marcela receives her diploma from Antonio, the school director.

This year, which was new to me, there was also a ring ceremony where each father presented a ring to their daughter or son. For me this was the highlight of the day as you could see how happy everyone was. You can see additional photos from the day on my Flickr page.

dsc_0186

Silvia receives a ring from her father.

As you know from my previous updates, we’ve decided to stop funding the high school in 2017 due to enrollment issues as well as the lagging donations here in Canada. But I hope you will continue to support the project as in a few weeks, teachers and students will return to the start of another year in the middle school, which we will continue to support.

As I walk around the towns and villages around Sololá I’m running into current and former students from the middle school and high school. Current students want to know about my next visit to the school. Past students want to say hello and tell me what they are doing such as Alex. He graduated from the middle school a few years ago and was able to find work in a store in the tourist centre of Panajachel.  He is very grateful for the opportunity to be working.

Without your financial support over the past ten years on this project, our six most recent graduates would likely have not had the opportunity to complete high school. I hope you can support the school in your year-end giving which will help me cover our expenses in 2016 and put us into a good financial position for 2017.

You can donate online through Casa Pueblito or mail in a cheque. (A cheque actually ensures that more of your money goes directly to the school!)

(If you are donating online please follow: under “Donate To This Charity Now”, please select option #2 “El Triunfo School Project.” You may also wish to indicate that your donation is for Ken’s School in the note.)

You can also mail a cheque payable to Casa Pueblito (please note this is a new address).

 Casa Pueblito

107A 2238 Dundas St. W

Toronto, ON M6R 3A9

ATTN: El Triunfo School Project

 Thank you everyone!

Ken