A Bright Light in San Antonio Palopó - March 2021

As we slog through these rather isolating times, the little community of San Antonio Palopó shines brightly. We’ve received lots of information and pictures during the past month, and we thought we’d share a bit of it with you. 

In Guatemala the COVID-climate has relaxed enough that schools are opening. As here, some of the secondary and university classes are still online, but the schools in San Antonio are set to open in person later this month. Candelaria, our wonderful administrator, spent part of January testing, interviewing, and selecting new becados (scholarship students). We are so thankful to have enough in the budget to be able to expand this program, and this year we expect to have around 20 becados — young people who otherwise wouldn’t have a hope of realizing their potential. As always, they sign a contract agreeing to help with the Casita programs – cleaning, gardening, keeping the library organized, helping in the kitchen, and tutoring younger students. This year we’re also starting on a support program for the becados in junior high. There’s a high failure rate at the junior high school in San Antonio. So this year all the Jr. High becados will come to the Casita for 10 hours/wk. of extra study in ,Maths, Language, Computer and English. The Jr. High school takes place in the afternoon, so the kids can take these extra classes on weekday mornings, and on Sunday morning for a couple of hours. It’s a lot, but these kids are keen (and they’ll get a healthy snack). I can’t share with you all the pictures and information we’ve received on each one, but let me tell you about some of them (photos left to right).

Ximena lives with her mother and grandparents in a very poor home. Candelaria
describes her as ‘muy chispada’ (very sparky) and very ready to talk. She is starting her
first year of Jr. High.
Sandra lives with her mother (shown in the picture), and is also beginning Jr. High. 
Alma, although she has a child, is determined to go to university (this happens on the
weekends in Guatemala) and become a teacher. She has excellent marks from
secondary school.
Elcer dreams of becoming a mechanic. To do this, he will attend the 2+-year mechanic
course at INTECAP, the junior college 1½ hours away by bus. 

Meanwhile, the children from the village continue to come to the Casita to receive extra help from Evelyn and Lidya, the two teachers, in basic subjects, and just to read. This has been such a hard year for them, without a school to go to, and these lessons at the Casita will help them keep their academic skills tuned up. And the Ancianas continue to arrive twice a week for their lunch and activities.

January also saw another distribution of food from the Casita. Up until the end of 2020, there was another group in town distributing food to some of the needy families, but this group has now run out of money. So our list of families has undergone a change. Some on our original list are starting to do a little better (many are artisans, and a few orders are now starting to trickle in), so these have now been removed from the list and other, poorer families, added – bringing us up to 220 families. Our little equipo of volunteers is constantly reviewing the situation. We are able to continue the food distribution, if necessary, for a few more months. However, we don’t want to create dependence on this food source, and so don’t want to continue longer than is absolutely necessary. We’ll keep you posted.

 So – a snapshot of what’s going on with ICO in San Antonio Palopó. We hope it warms your hearts as much as it does ours. For sure, none of this would be happening without your support.

Once again, ¡Gracias!