San Antonio Education and Community Update – April 2021

Well, here we are in mid-April. Recently, we’ve heard of people fleeing Guatemala trying despite all odds to get into the US because of hunger, violence and lack of any sort of future. But, with help from our generous donors, there’s a little corner of Guatemala where people do have food and education and a way of going forward without having to flee their country. 
Here’s what’s happened in San Antonio Palopό since our last blog in February. 

Students in San Antonio finally got back to school at the end of February, but they only attend 2 days a week. The rest of the time they’re expected to do assignments – no easy task in their small, poorly-lit homes with parents who most often aren’t educated themselves. So, La Casita is hopping with groups of kids sent by their teachers for work on specific skills. As well, lots of kids come for homework help, to use the computers, and read books from the library.  

We also took on the task of helping kids who were starting without adequate school supplies or backpacks at the 2 primary schools. Lidya and Evelyn, the two teachers, worked with the teachers to develop a list of the most needy students. They managed to get a deal with a wholesaler, and were able to provide 120 backpacks to kids who really needed them. 

For some time we’ve grappled with the problem of space at the Casita – where will are all these people and programs fit? As well as the indoor space, the Casita has a large flagstone patio in front, partially covered by a roof. However, when it rains this is unusable. So last month, Gregorio – one of our amazing administrators – took on extending the roof, using a combination of clear and opaque lamina. And voilà!  A whole new area of usable space, and all for Q6,200 – just over $1,000 CDN. Here you see the latest monthly food distribution, taking place under the extended roof. 

We also decided to upgrade our technology. Our existing computers were starting to show their age, plus there weren’t really enough of them to meet the needs of our 20 scholarship students (who often need to borrow a laptop to be able to do their homework), plus the kids who come to the Casita for research.  Computers are expensive in Guatemala, but we were able to find a source of good reconditioned laptops and bought 10 of them. There are a couple of pretty skilled senior scholarship students who give regular computer classes, so a whole raft of students are being trained in the skills they’ll need for the future.

The Casita garden continues to be a place of teaching gardening skills for the wider community. Some of the scholarship students help maintain the garden, the younger kids learn about the value of planting even a small patch in this fertile soil, and the garden produce is used in the twice-weekly lunches enjoyed by the Ancianas.

And lastly we want to share with you a couple of entrepreneurial success stories. A couple of years ago we sponsored a course for recent high school grads to help them with job-seeking skills, etc. This turned into an entrepreneurship program (the sad fact being that there aren’t enough regular jobs in Guatemala, especially if you don’t want to live in the capital). Out of this program emerged a mushroom-growing project (which is still going strong, run by some of the scholarship students), a café (which sadly folded), and a tilapia-raising project run by 3 young men, graduates of the program. After a couple of false starts, they’ve really come into their own, and now have a successful business selling their fish. 

So that’s about it for now. We’re hoping this helps you feel like we do, that – in the midst of this country filled with poverty and insecurity –we’re helping a whole host of people build the skills they need for a positive future.
Thanks again to all of our donors. ¡Gracias desde el fondo de todos nuestros corazones!