Sunday, January 9, 2011
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
San José Poaquil, Chimaltenango
May 26, 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
As you know, I am currently a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala. My primary project here is preventive health education, but I also have a secondary project that I am beyond passionate about – Friends of Poaquil. Friends of Poaquil is a scholarship fund that was started here about 8 years ago, by former volunteer. It has been handed down from one volunteer to the next, and I am currently in charge. Having responsibility for these kids’ future is at times a daunting task, but always a rewarding one. Day after day, these kids blow me away with their zeal and zest for learning and for life. As we say here in Guatemala, they are “pilas” – always going above and beyond what is expected. This year, we have 5 students on full scholarship, and one on a partial scholarship.
The two boys, Deyvin and Alex, are both in their third and last year of “basico” (high school), and will be graduating this fall from Colegio Eben-Ezer here in Poaquil. Both have plans to go to a career school in January for agricultural economics. Elvia is in her first year of basico at the National Institute of Basico Education in Hacienda Maria, a school that is known for its rigorous curriculum, and is making excellent grades. Marleny is in nursing school to be an “enfermera auxiliar,” a year-long program that will certify her to work in one of the hundreds of Health Centers or Posts throughout the country. Norma is studying to be a teacher at a well-respected school in Antigua, and doing excellent. Gladys is our student on partial scholarship, and she is in her first year of basico at the National Institute of Basico Education in Poaquil.
I spent last Thanksgiving introducing a cousin of a former Poaquil volunteer around the community for her final project in her photography and videography classes. The first link is to a YouTube video that explains a bit about the civil war in Guatemala from the perspective of scholarship recipients’ families. The second link is to a few photos that were taken of the recipients, helping to put faces with names.
Poaquil is generally a farming community, main crops being corn, coffee, beans, and assorted fruits and vegetables. So many parents are without education and they continue farming, as it is one of their few options, to try to provide for their families. Quite frequently, parents will keep their children out of school to help with chores around the house as well as the farming and animal keeping duties. Many times I’ve seen a child under the age of 10 being drug along by several sheep or cows or goats, taking them up to graze rather than going to school. An education is something that pays off in the long run, but these families live hand to mouth, and cannot see that far ahead. It is rather difficult to explain why it is better for the child to be in school, rather than helping the family to a more immediate means to an end.
And now, I am asking for your help. These kids are hardworking and resourceful, but lack sufficient funding for education for a variety of reasons. Your donation, in any amount whatsoever, will make a huge difference. We in America seem to take education for granted, myself included. It amazes me that we have students failing out of $30,000 per year universities in the States while Elvia, one of our recipients, wove huipil (the traditional blouse worn by women here) after huipil to save money to put towards her education. Our budget for this year is $6,5000 – part of which we have received in thanks to former volunteers, but not yet enough to finish educating these youngsters for the rest of the year. I thank you for your thoughts and donations, in any amount, that will help us to reach our goal. To donate, please send a check to the following address, made out to Friends of Guatemala.
230 Bryant St. #3
Mountain View, CA 94041
In the memo line, it would be extremely helpful to put my name as well as the town, San José Poaquil, Chimaltenango.
Elisa is a former Peace Corps Volunteer from Poaquil that was once in charge of Friends of Poaquil, and has a direct contact with the administrator responsible for getting donations directly to me. She will make sure that you receive a receipt of your donation for tax purposes, as Friends of Guatemala is non-profit and donations are tax deductible. You will be amazed how much they appreciate it.
So yeah, that's where I'm at. Things are busy, but good. On the pony front, I've found a guy here in town with one, and am attempting to summon the uumph to go knock on his door and ask to rent it. I'm waiting for the day that I'm riding bareback on some hag pony on the dirt road, on the way to Paxcabalche, with a backpack full of info about nutrition/hand washing/etc, my campesino straw hat shielding my sensitive gringa skin and eyes from the equatorial sun.
Hope to hear from some of you soon!