Our Affiliated Project: Santa Isabel Ana Seton in Guatemala City, Guatemala

 

Quick facts about Santa Isabel Ana Seton:

  • Ages served: Preschool – ninth grade (at the private school Escuela Santa Maria)
  • Average enrollment: 850 boys and girls between the ages of five and fifteen
  • Academic schedule: Typically begins in mid-January and ends in late October. Students enjoy summer break during the months of November through mid-January and a two-week winter break in June.
  • Daily choirs: Students carry out a variety of tasks including washing dishes, sweeping the school floors and helping their teachers clean their classrooms.

Located just southeast of Mexico, Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America. Its spectacular mountains boast a wealth of natural resources and stunning biodiversity. For centuries, this land served as the core territory of the Mayan civilization.

Following two centuries of Spanish colonization, Guatemala gained its independence in the early nineteenth century, only to endure another 150 years of political instability and civil unrest. Additionally, this area is prone to devastating natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and hurricanes which cause mudslides and flooding. Despite recent economic growth and successful democratic elections, Guatemala still struggles with widespread poverty, illiteracy, crime and high rates of unemployment and underemployment.

The nation’s capital, Guatemala City, is no exception to these maladies. Named for a North American nun who was canonized in 1975, the Santa Isabel Ana Seton welfare center serves as a beacon of hope in the city’s poorest district. Here, the Sisters of San Vincente de Paul and Santa Luisa de Marillac tend to the needs of local impoverished families. Additionally, since Guatemala’s public education system suffers from overcrowding, numerous teacher strikes and a general lack of school supplies, the sisters also provide education through the affiliated Escuela Santa Maria private school. Together, the school and project strive to provide these deserving children with basic needs and a sound education — the keys to breaking the cycle of poverty — so that students may rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come.