Sara R, reports from Guatemala and the
I am very excited to report that I just returned from Guatemala and we have enrolled 78 children in the program for the 2013 school year, which begins in January! I had the opportunity to meet with all of the kids and many of their families at the annual Christmas Party and am happy with the progress of the project and with our collaboration with Tob'anik Germany, who also had a representative there at the same time, as well as with the ground team in Guatemala.
In terms of the children in the program, we have been able to include several new families as well as allowing some families to enroll up to four children. One such family is the Sop Hernandez clan. I spent a lot of time with Claudia Hernandez, and 6 of her 7 kids (the 7th was working) and was able to learn about their daily struggles as a family as well as the triumphs of the kids, three of whom placed first in their class for the current school year. Señora Hernandez is a single mother who supports the family cleaning houses around the city. Her three youngest kids, Carmen Sofia, Carmen Teresa, and Ezequiel de Jesus are triplets (entering 2nd grade). Two of the kids also work in addition to attending school and her middle child, David, is severely mentally challenged and requires constant attention and watching, which the children all help with. This family is truly a special one, and I feel very privileged to have been able to spend time with them and to help them pay for the school expenses of at least four of the kids this coming year.
I also spent time with the Ramon Garcia kids, whose father Rafael Ramon supports them by selling newspapers. Three of the four Ramon Garcia's were at the Christmas Party, but the eldest Elias Abraham was not able to attend as he is severely ill. Part of our goal for the coming year will be to be able to help more with emergency medical expenses of the children in the program, in addition to school expenses. Last year one of the little girls in the program was struck by loose electrical while walking to school and suffered 3rd degree burns over much of her body. Tob'anik was able to help pay for her hospital stay and offered support to her family while she recovered.
Overall I am happy with the current state of the project and will be communicating with the ground team over the next two months on a very regular basis through Skype conference calls regarding reimbursing fees at the start of the school year. We had a conference will all of the parents to discuss rules and responsibilities of membership in the program during my visit as well. I will plan another trip in May of 2013, if not earlier, and now have a US volunteer coordinator who is living in Quetzaltenango and working at the Spanish school, with whom I will hold a monthly meeting.
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Sincerely, Sara R