Tag Archives: guatemala

Overcoming the Limitations of Poverty

In the city of Tecpan, located some sixty miles west of Guatemala City, the majority of the roughly 50,000 inhabitants claims direct descent from the Mayas. Despite their rich cultural heritage, however, indigenous people often find themselves marginalized, left to endure the brunt of poverty and its associated effects, which are common in Guatemala.

On a recent visit to Guatemala with Ron Carter, our President and Chief Executive Officer, and Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, we went to the Tecpan School, our affiliated project where we support about one-third of the children in attendance. Run by nuns of the Hijas de la Caridad (Daughters of Charity) Order, the school strives to aid the impoverished children of this region by offering them a well-rounded education.

“I had more opportunities; I can’t say it was just because of the efforts of my mom and myself – it was also the efforts of my sponsor who made me the person I am today.”

– José

The school itself is located on beautifully-kept grounds; well-manicured playgrounds and soccer fields inside the school’s compound are surrounded by brightly-painted classrooms where 570 students between the ages of five and fifteen attend classes daily. The children come from small villages in and around Tecpan. In addition to offering regular primary and middle school classes for the children, 200 young adult students from the community also study at the school on the weekends so that they may receive a diploma – but still work to support their families in the process.

Indigenous families struggling to survive

When we arrived at the school, we were taken on a tour by our Volunteer Coordinator Sister Virginia. Sister Virginia told us that many of our sponsored and unsponsored children come from indigenous families that are very poor because they work in agriculture on rented land where they make very little money. She explained that this year has been especially hard on families because the rainy season in Guatemala wiped out valuable crops, which kept families from earning the income they had expected.

As a result, Sister Virginia continued, our program is extremely important to the Tecpan School and the families we help to support. Children primarily receive school supplies and tuition payments through sponsorship funds, as well as uniforms and shoes. Also, their families receive bags of food every two to three months, which helps them immensely.

 Meeting José

José’s sponsor supported him through school, and he is now a teacher helping other children at the Tecpan School.

After we finished our tour, Sister Virginia introduced us to a former sponsored child, now in his early thirties, named José. José’s mother worked at the Tecpan School when he was a young boy; he would even sometimes go to work with her on the weekends. While he was growing up, his mother struggled financially; so our volunteer coordinator at the time offered to enroll José in our program so that he could receive the support he needed to attend the Tecpan School, which is much less crowded than typical public schools in Guatemala and is, therefore, better equipped to give children the attention they need in order to succeed. From kindergarten through high school, José’s sponsor helped to support him. Thanks to his academic achievements, he was able to enroll in college, where he studied environmental engineering and mathematics. After graduating, José returned to the Tecpan School, where he is now a math teacher. José had this to say about his sponsor and Children Incorporated:

“It was Children Incorporated who helped me through sponsorship so my mom didn’t have to pay for all my school expenses, clothes, and food by herself. I had more opportunities; I can’t say it was just because of the efforts of my mom and myself – it was also the efforts of my sponsor who made me the person I am today. There are other children from this community that have had the same limitations that I had growing up. I know that this program helps a lot of children in the community.”

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN GUATEMALA?

You can sponsor a child in Guatemala in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Guatemala that is available for sponsorship

The Importance of Home Visits

In all of my visits to our affiliated projects around the world over the last few years, I have yet to meet a volunteer coordinator who does not visit the homes of our sponsored children. Our coordinators feel that home visits are important for many different reasons. Visiting the homes of children in our program helps to forge a strong partnership between parents and coordinators, because parents often feel more relaxed and comfortable at home, as opposed to in a school or office environment.

Home visits help to establish strong, positive communication between our coordinators and our sponsored children’s parents and guardians.

Home visits help to establish strong, positive communication between our coordinators and our sponsored children’s parents and guardians. They can also motivate parents to get involved or become more involved at their kids’ schools and activities when a school administrator takes time out of their day to visit their homes, showing their concern for the children’s well-being.

One of the most important aspects of home visits is that they give our coordinators a glimpse into the lives of the children we support. They offer a perspective on each individual family’s struggles, what they are lacking, and what they find to be the most difficult challenges in their lives. When our coordinators see these harsh realities for themselves, they become better-equipped to provide each child in our program with the exact support they so desperately need. Additionally, when our coordinators visit the homes of our sponsored children, we, in turn, get a better idea of what a tremendous impact our programs are having in the lives of the kids we help to support.

Every child included

On a recent trip to Guatemala, I met with our Volunteer Coordinators Sister Ana María and Katy at Santa Isabel Ana Seton in Guatemala City. Named after a North American nun who was canonized in 1975, Santa Isabel Ana Seton serves children in pre-school through the ninth grade in one of the city’s poorest districts. The school is on a large compound, the center of which consists of a concrete playground that is surrounded by classrooms in which 575 boys and girls attend elementary and middle school.

Visiting the homes of children is important in knowing how to support them.

As we toured the school, Katy explained that she and Sister Ana María make it a point to visit the homes of each and every one of the children enrolled in our program. Since the school day is very busy, Katy knows that it is less effective to try to talk to children at school, when they are busy with their hectic schedules, and laughing and having fun with their friends. She also realizes that it is essential to learn about students’ home lives, see what conditions they live in, and meet their parents and guardians. She finds that when she is able to ask specific questions to parents in a place where they are comfortable talking to her, they tend to tell her exactly what they are struggling with; then, Katy ensures that they get what they need.

Many parents have indicated to Katy that there is not enough food to eat at home on the weekends. In one instance, a parent lost their job, and was therefore no longer able to afford school fees. Other parents convey that they are worried about their children’s safety; in these cases, Katy recommends that the children enroll in skills training programs after school so that they aren’t out in the streets while their parents are working, and are better prepared for life after they graduate from school.

Individual attention for each child

At Children Incorporated, we often talk about how proud we are that we are able to give individual children the attention they deserve. In contrast to other child sponsorship organizations, our coordinators know the children enrolled in their respective schools, orphanages, homes, and community centers personally, and are therefore familiar with each individual child’s circumstances. Our policy is to consider the needs of each sponsored child; and thanks to special people all over the world – people like Sister María and Katy – who are willing to go above and beyond every day, we will be able to continue our work for many years to come.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN GUATEMALA?

You can sponsor a child in Guatemala in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Guatemala that is available for sponsorship.

Returning to Guatemala

Guatemala is a country that is known for its beautiful lakes, volcanoes, Mayan ruins, and brightly-painted buses; unfortunately, however, its residents struggle with widespread poverty, illiteracy, crime, and high rates of unemployment and underemployment. Even though the country boasts the largest economy in Central America, Guatemala faces many social problems, and it is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

The income distribution is highly unequal, with more than half of its population living below the national poverty line. Guatemala City, the nation’s capital and home of our affiliated project the Juan Apostol School, is no exception to these conditions.

An incredibly proud moment

When our President and Chief Executive Officer, Ron Carter, first visited the Juan Apostol School in 2014, he didn’t know what to expect; he knew little more than what he had been told about the project from our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet. Founded in 1964, the Juan Apostol School serves children living in the surrounding impoverished area, ensuring that they receive a well-rounded education. The school also offers skills training courses so that students may have increased employment opportunities after graduation.

Mr. Carter and Tita with students at the Juan Apostol School in 2014

Luis had explained to Mr. Carter that the school serves elementary to high school-aged children in two different buildings. There, they receive instruction in core academic subjects, including English. Additional courses in drama, arts, and music are offered, too. Luis also explained to Mr. Carter that many of the children in our program there come from single-parent homes, and that many suffer from neglect and malnutrition – and some, even abuse.

When Mr. Carter arrived at the project, he was greeted by our Volunteer Coordinator Tita, who gave him a tour of the school. She further explained that the Juan Apostol School and the Children Incorporated program are enriching the lives of more than 500 children. Mr. Carter wrote this about his first visit:

“I had an absolutely wonderful visit to the Juan Apostol School; I honestly cannot say enough about Tita and the incredible warmth and hospitality I was offered. It was much more than I had expected. When I arrived at the school, a group of the kids had cooked for me, and they were so proud to show off their cooking skills. It was a real spread, too – salad, spiced shrimp, steak with a spicy chili pepper sauce, and cheesecake. I tried all of the food, then took a nice tour of the school – only to be told that another group of students had prepared more food! This time it was a chicken dish in delicious mole sauce, traditional rice, and tamales!

“I also had the opportunity to meet some of the young people in our program. One young man, Hugo*, is a senior this year. He has been in the Children Incorporated program since he was very young, and he has really excelled academically. He is the band director for the school, and they have won many trophies as a result of his skills. Furthermore, this same young man had a serious dental problem a while back; his front teeth had been badly damaged, and he was ashamed to look at people face-to-face and to smile. Children Incorporated paid to have his teeth fixed, and now he has a wonderful smile. Seeing this made me so incredibly proud of the work we do!”

We have also provided funding for all of the school’s skills training programs, including computer repair and graphic design courses. Additionally, we were able to fund the construction of new classrooms at the Juan Apostol School, in order to house an increased number of students.

More impressed than ever

Upon Mr. Carter’s return to Guatemala with me and Luis this past June, Tita and the school director, Mr. Morales, greeted us warmly at the school entrance. As we toured the school, Tita explained that in the last four years, the school has grown exponentially. Now, more than 1,300 children are in attendance between the two campuses, and the Juan Apostol School ranks top in the area.

Tita and Mr. Morales feel that the school is successful as a result of high parent – as well as student – participation. Not only do parents attend regular meetings at the school, but they also help with fundraising; and some even take skills training courses like cooking, sewing, and cosmetology alongside students, so that they may have an upper hand in the job market, and thereby better support their families.

As we visited with Children Incorporated kids in their classrooms, Tita expressed to Mr. Carter her gratitude not only for our sponsorship program, but also for the additional support that we provide to all the students. Thanks to our Hope In Action Fund, Children Incorporated has been able to purchase instruments for the school’s award-winning band, so that students who otherwise couldn’t afford to do so could participate.

We have also provided funding for all of the school’s skills training programs, including computer repair and graphic design courses. Additionally, we were able to fund the construction of new classrooms at the Juan Apostol School, in order to house an increased number of students.

As we continued our walk between beautiful open-air school buildings and playgrounds, I could tell that Mr. Carter was more impressed than ever with the Juan Apostol School and everything it is doing to help children in need. While discussing with Tita how happy he was to see the school expanding their programs each year, Mr. Carter also spoke of his desire to find more sponsors for the unsponsored children on our waiting list, so that even more kids could benefit from the amazing efforts of this impressive school that continues to have a huge impact on the community year after year.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN GUATEMALA?

You can sponsor a child in Guatemala in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Guatemala that is available for sponsorship.

Emergency Relief After a Volcanic Eruption

In early June, the eruption of the Volcano of Fire near Antigua, Guatemala caught residents living nearby by surprise. By the time the eruption was over, more than one million people had been affected; approximately 3,000 people had been displaced from their homes, and about 250 people were missing. The eruption caused direct damage to five villages in the area surrounding the volcano, including the town of Antigua, where our affiliated project Sagrada Familia is located. The aftermath of the eruption engulfed the neighboring towns not only in thick smoke, but also in heavy ash and hot gases. In addition, huge rocks tumbled down the volcano, blocking roads and destroying homes along their paths.

The eruption caused direct damage to five villages in the area surrounding the volcano, including the town of Antigua, where our affiliated project Sagrada Familia is located.

The Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), a Guatemalan government agency for disaster reduction, quickly set up fifteen shelters after the catastrophe to help displaced residents who were in need of food, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, and bedding during this time of crisis. As soon as we heard news of the volcanic eruption, Children Incorporated asked our amazing supporters to donate emergency relief funds that we could send directly to Sagrada Familia, where our volunteer coordinators were working hard to provide daily support for families who had lost their homes and were living in shelters.

A huge thank-you to all of our donors who have contributed to our Guatemala Relief Fund to help those affected by this natural disaster. Funds are being utilized for the purchase of cooking oil, sugar, flour, rice, beans, nutritional drinks, salt, canned vegetables, soups, baby food, filtered water, and canned and bagged fruit juices to feed families; mops and brooms, bleach and disinfectants, rags, latex gloves, and buckets for water and sanitation; and toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, towels, and diapers. We are so grateful for your support!

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE GUATEMALA RELIEF FUND?

You can contribute to our Guatemala Relief Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Guatemala Relief Fund.

Saying Thanks to Sponsors

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 renowned 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.

Though a seemingly small gesture, for these children and their parents, creating something handmade as a way of saying thank you to sponsors shows just how important our sponsorship program is to them, as well as to the school and community.

These maladies are perhaps even more pronounced in the city of Tecpan, located some sixty miles west of Guatemala City. The overwhelming majority of Tecpan’s 50,000 inhabitants claim direct descent from the Maya. However, despite their rich cultural heritage, indigenous people often find themselves marginalized, left to endure the brunt of poverty and its associated effects. For this reason, the Tecpan School, one of our affiliated projects in Guatemala, is incredibly important to these families. Run by nuns of the Hijas de la Caridad (Daughters of Charity) Order, the school strives to aid the impoverished children of this region; and thanks to the help of their sponsors, children and their families are receiving basic needs, which helps them to break the cycle of poverty.

Showing appreciation

Recently, we received pictures from our volunteer coordinator at the Tecpan School of children and their mothers making small gifts of handmade bracelets and bookmarks for the kids’ sponsors as a way to show their gratitude for all that our sponsors do to help these families. Though a seemingly small gesture, for these children and their parents, creating something handmade as a way of saying thank you to sponsors shows just how important our sponsorship program is to them, as well as to the school and community.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN GUATEMALA?

You can sponsor a child in Guatemala in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Guatemala that is available for sponsorship.

Children’s Education and Poverty

At Children Incorporated, we believe that education is a way out of poverty for children, both in the United States and globally. Many barriers stand in the way of children receiving an education, from unaffordable school fees and a lack of basic facilities, to discrimination and low-quality instruction. These are often compounded by some cultural practices such as early marriage, as well as by the general preference of boys over girls, both of which make education out of reach for many girls. Around the world, threats of natural disasters and civil conflicts also disrupt many children’s education.

Global child education facts

– Children from the poorest households are 3 times less likely to attend school than children from the richest households

– 57 million children around the world are not attending school — and the majority of these young people are girls

– For each additional year of primary school attendance, a female worker’s wages increase 10 to 20%, on average

– Educated mothers tend to send their children to school, helping to break the cycle of poverty

– Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names

– 40% of children living in poverty aren’t prepared to receive schooling at the primary level

Students who come from low-income families are 7 times more likely to drop out of school than those from families with higher incomes

National child education facts

– Poverty’s effects on the psychological and emotional states of children contribute to both student interest in school and overall happiness

– Children living in poverty have a higher rate of absenteeism or leave school altogether because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members

– Students who come from low-income families are 7 times more likely to drop out of school than those from families with higher incomes

In 2015, approximately 10% of children had parents who didn’t complete high school; 27% lived in households with single mothers; 8% lived in single father households; and 20% came from families living in poverty

– In 2013, the school dropout rate for students in the nation was at 8% for African American youth, 7% for Hispanic youth – both of which are higher than the dropout rate for Caucasian youth (4%)

What Children Incorporated does to support children’s education

Children Incorporated provides resources to children in need in the United States and abroad because we passionately believe that children everywhere deserve education, hope, and opportunity. Through our sponsorship program, we provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, and educational support to children living in poverty. These essentials, so often taken for granted, are vital to a child’s growth and success in school.

How you can help

You can help a child living in poverty to receive an education in a few different ways. One way is through our child sponsorship program. Sponsorship provides an underprivileged child with basic and education-related necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, school supplies, and school tuition payments. This vital support allows impoverished, vulnerable children to develop to their full potential – physically, emotionally, and socially. Sponsors positively impact the lives of the children they sponsor through the simple knowledge that someone cares about their well-being. This gives children in need hope, which is powerful.

Our policy has always been to consider the needs of each sponsored child on an individual basis. We work closely with our volunteer coordinators at our project sites, who are familiar with each individual circumstance and the needs of every child in their care. Sponsorship donations are sent to our projects – orphanages, homes, community centers, and schools – at the beginning of each month in the form of subsidy stipends. Our on-site volunteer coordinators use these funds to purchase basic and education-related items for children in our program, to ensure that they have what they need to do their very best and succeed in school.

You can also help children in need by donating to one of our special funds. Our special funds offer a variety of giving options for sponsors who wish to further their support, as well as for donors who wish to make a difference without making a commitment.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

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References:

https://www.unicef.org/media/media_39441.html

http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-education-and-poverty-america

https://www.children.org/global-poverty/global-poverty-facts/facts-about-world-poverty-and-education

http://www.care.org/work/poverty/child-poverty/facts

https://borgenproject.org/10-facts-children-living-poverty/

http://education.seattlepi.com/statistics-poverty-affects-children-schools-3636.html

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cce.asp