We hope you are all doing well and have been able to get vaccinated. There is hope for the future!!
Thanks so much to all of you who sent in end-of-the-year donations and also for donations that came in at the beginning of the year, with some of you sharing part of your stimulus check. Because of your support and incredible generosity, we were able to begin 2021 funding our eleven projects in Guatemala (7 preschools, 3 after-school programs, and 1 weaving project). We are confident that during the year, we will raise enough money to complete the funding for 2021.
Our teachers did an absolutely incredible job last year!! They all began the year teaching their students in their classrooms until Covid hit and closed the schools; then they worked on creating new teaching materials and purchasing/distributing food (with the money that Project Quetzal raised) to all the families in our projects and other needy families in their villages; and a few months later, they began visiting their students in their homes and worked 1-on-1 with them through December (school usually ends mid-October, so they worked 2 extra months).
The evaluations and statistics at the end of 2020 were excellent, even with all the regulations because of the pandemic. Children learned their numbers, letters, and shapes. They were weighed and measured with good results. The students turning 7 were well prepared and ready to go to 1st grade. Students in the after-school programs, who were at risk of failing, were all promoted except for 2 (and they will receive continued support this year).
So, as you can imagine, the teachers were all very excited to attend a weeklong training at the end of January 2021 to hone their skills centered on creative and active learning. Their class sizes have all grown (word has gotten out how valuable the program is); so instead of having 10-14 students, they now have 16-18. In keeping with government regulations, they are seeing 9 children on MT, the other 9 on WTh, and children who need extra help on Fridays.
It has been difficult for us not to be able to return to Guatemala and to have “hands on” involvement with PQ’s projects; but we obviously have exceptional teachers who are dedicated to preparing their students to achieve success, and excellent coordinators who organize the 3 trainings a year, mentor the teachers, and arrange the monthly meetings with the mothers.
Hopefully, we will be able to return in September/October and continue our work with our existing projects. We were in the process of possibly developing a preschool housed in the local university and also one in another rural village. We are also committed to the idea of working with other groups to provide more services to the communities where we work (water filters, women’s health, family planning education, etc).
One last note: There was an article on April 2nd in our local paper, the Press Democrat (from the Washington Post) titled “Hunger Drives Exodus.” It focused on how food insecurity is sending many Guatemalans the US-Mexico border. The article states that the number of severe acute malnutrition cases in children has doubled between 2019 and 2020. Part of this is caused by failed crops linked to climate change, natural disasters, lack of job opportunities, and a spike in prices of basic staples such as beans.
This makes it even more important that we try to make a difference in rural indigenous Guatemala where the statistics are even higher. If children in PQ’s projects continue with their education, they will have a good chance of obtaining jobs. Plus the children in our programs receive a nutritious snack and all the children in the family receive Chispiditos, a nutritious vitamin and mineral drink.
Enjoy the photos! Thank you for your interest and support!!