San Antonio Education and Community Update – April 2022

La Casita in the Spring

Since we last updated you, lots of things have been happening in San Antonio Palopó. The extension to La Casita was opened, old furniture was moved, new furniture was ordered, and the local carpenter is now building bookcases. With increased space, new classes have sprouted up. Antonio, our techie scholarship student, has started a computer class for adults in the evenings. Ana Olivia, the part-time coordinator, has begun a class for mothers of students who use the Casita, stressing the importance of encouraging their kids in their studies, and offering strategies for them to earn a little income and become more empowered. 

Empowerment for women is a big issue here. Alcoholism among men and domestic violence, are common. Recently, two of the scholarship students – 15 and 16 year old girls – ran away from home. When they were finally found, it emerged that both of them had found living at home unbearable. One family was able, with the help of Candelaria, our wonderful administrator, to sort out their problems. In the other case, 16-year-old Candi refused to return to a family where an abusive alcoholic father spent all the family income and erupted into violence every night, throwing things and threatening the family. Candelaria was able to find a safe place for Candi, her mother, and younger brother to live in Panajachel and they receive a small income for cleaning the building. Candi and her brother are now attending school in Panajachel, and our group of volunteers is once more feeling grateful for the commitment of Candelaria and her husband Gregorio as they continue to go above and beyond!

Lidya working with a group of children

Other developments at the La Casita include a change in staff. Evelyn, the full time teacher who has worked at the Casita for the past 3 years, was offered and accepted a teaching job in her home village, some distance away from San Antonio. After going through a process of interviewing outside candidates, it was decided that the best option was to promote our assistant teacher, Lidya, up to head teacher, and to hire one of the university scholarship students, Alma, to be her assistant. Lidya, who started at the Casita with just her highschool certificate, has now earned her 3-year teaching certificate, and is continuing her studies to earn her 5-year advanced certificate. She has really grown with the job!  Alma has 2 years of teacher training, and has already been working as a volunteer with groups of kids at the Casita. We’re pleased that both of these creative and energetic young women are being given the chance to shine. As always, the senior scholarship students pitch in to help with everything from gardening to tutoring, and right now we have a university intern with lots of creative ideas. 

Even with the new extension, there are kids in every corner working, reading and using the computers.

COVID seems to have settled down; there are still some cases, but fewer than before, and tourists are starting to come back.  This is a great boom to this town of weavers and potters. Schools, which were one of the last things to open, have finally begun in-person classes once more. However, classes are shorter and smaller. San Antonio schools have adopted a hybrid plan, with half the classes being in person and half by distance. This means that the Casita continues to operate at top capacity, with lots of kids needing help with assignments. 




In the meantime, all the regular programs, from learning assistance for kids, lunches for the Ancianas, extra classes for scholarship students, sewing classes, computer classes, continue.  This bustling little centre is doing all it can to improve lives in this small corner of Guatemala. Noé, a university education intern, leads the kids in a welcome energizing break.




We also thought that you might find some of our scholarship student’s life stories interesting.  This is a brief, edited version of Veronica’s biography that she originally wrote in Spanish:


Verónica is 16 years old and lives in San Antonio Palopó.  Her parents are Xòc  and Martina.  They are both illiterate because they did not have the opportunity to study due to lack of economic resources.  Veronica has a sister and two brothers.

Veronica started the pre-primary level of school at the age of 6 and received her 6th diploma at the age of 12.  She is the only one in the family that likes to study and has started the Basic level of study with the support of her parents, but they lack economic resources.   The pandemic has left her with many experiences.  Her classes were online, which she had to follow on her brother’s cell phone, often losing the signal connection.  She was able to finish her 3rd Basic level.

Veronica recognizes the importance of studying since she understands how tough it is for her parents.  She wants to study and change the course of her parent’s lives.  She likes studying communication and language and her goal is to be able to speak English fully so that she can help people.  She would love to teach the English language to young people and children so that they can be trilingual.

Thank you, once again, for all your support.