March 8, 2007

Child of the week

In an attempt to show what an impact the donations to the scholarship program have made, I thought I would post information about a child once a week. Those of you that donated through Friends of Guatemala should be receiving a letter from the child we have chosen to give your money to. They all took the letter writing process very seriously and when they were handed the piece of paper with your name on it, they just stared at it. None of them can believe that someone in the United States wants to help them.
I'm always amazed when I see all the activities that the kids are getting involved in. It's hard to imagine that without your support, they would not have the chance to do any of this. Through this program, leaders are being created in the community. Every day I am reminded that education is the ONLY way to break the cycle of poverty that exists here. When we held our letter writing meeting, one of the most humbling discoveries was that many of the student's parents could not sign their names or help their child read the directions we passed out. Instead we used their fingerprints as a signature and the older kids helped the younger kids with the instructions. Already it was evident that the large majority of children had surpassed the educational abilities of their parents. The struggle to educate here is immense. Little by little steps are being made. Thanks for your support and this is where your money is going...

name: Claudia Chub
age: 16
grade: 7th
favorite subject: math
favorite sport: soccer
# of brothers and sisters: 2 brothers, 4 sisters
future goal: to be a college graduate

Claudia was recommended to us by her 6th grade teacher as someone with motivation to study and a great sense of respect for those around her. Her teacher told us that she was not enrolling in classes this year, due to the increase in prices for junior high. Her family was simply unable to come up with money to send her to school this year. It's fairly rare for girls in Salacuim to go beyond 6th grade. There are always more opportunities for the boys and the girls really have to fight for an education. It is very common for many of the girls to get pregnant at 13 and be bound to the house and a family with no more than a 6th grade education. We were determined not to let this happen and that's when we found Claudia.
We were instantly impressed with how well spoken she was and her ability to communicate her thoughts and desire to study. She has continued to impress us with her organization and the responsibility she takes for all her studies. Since being enrolled in school, she has become an active player on the basketball team, she is participating in typing classes (one hour a day for the entire year) and 2 nights ago she was crowned ¨senorita simpatía¨ or miss friendliness.

basketball practice

typing class

¨senorita simpatía¨

Many of the children we encounter do not have a lot of support from their families. Not because they don't want to help their children, but mostly because they don't know how or lack the ability to help. Claudia's parents have been involved from day one. I will never forget when we invited them over to our house to talk about enrolling their daughter in our program and after we told her that we were going to help her out this year, both her parents started to cry. We had not received a reaction like this before, but they truly were grateful that someone was willing to help their child. You could tell that this was a life changing event for them.

Claudia and her parents, Martin & Rosalia

The money from Claudia's sponsor is going towards her tuition, uniform, typing classes, fees for sports and extracurricular activities (such as pageants) and also paying for her to take her exams every couple months. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it all adds up to making her experience a successful one. A couple hundred dollars goes so far here and it's amazing to see how it has change Claudia's life.

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