The Aid and Education Project, Inc.

      “ El Proyecto de Ayuda y Educación “




August, 2003


Dear Sponsors, Donors & Friends:



First of all, thank you for your support.  The program in Guatemala is progressing every day, and we are moving forward on several fronts and making plans for the next school year.  Without your help, this project would not be possible.  Thank you.



As reported in our last newsletter, we are now offering basic medical, eye, and ear care to all students in the program.  Basic exams have now been completed.  Fortunately, we did not encounter any major problems.  Prescriptions for eye medicine and glasses were routine.  One young girl will need on-going eye care for about 6 months, but then her vision should be fine.  We were worried about one boy who seemed to be deaf in one ear.  His problem, however, was alleviated by a major cleaning.

So far this year, we’ve paid for a few prescriptions for normal childhood aliments, but otherwise everyone’s health has been fine. 



  Our first Maya culture program was a great success.  As reported in the last newsletter, we organized a three day program for our students on the culture and history of the Maya people.  We were able to arrange for a professional teacher on this topic, herself a Quiche Maya, to work with our director and offer the program during Holy Week.

The program included classes, videos, hands-on workshops, and an excursion to Guatemala City .  On the excursion, the kids visited two museums on Maya culture and history, and went to Maya ruins near the city.  In the classes and workshops the kids learned to make Maya glyphs and cardboard “stelae”, and to recognize various signs and symbols on Maya pottery.  At no expense to us, a video was made of the classes.  The video is still in production, but we will let you know when it is ready to be distributed.

After the program concluded, a number of students and parents wrote letters expressing their appreciation for the opportunity to learn about this aspect of their culture and history.  For many, it was a first.

Given this success, we want to continue the program.  We believe it is important that these Maya kids know about the accomplishments and culture of their ancestors.  And the program keeps the kids thinking and engaged in a subject that they find fascinating. 

Thus, we are currently holding a class on Saturday mornings to teach about the Maya calendar.  We will continue the classes during the major school vacation in November and December.  At that time, we hope to teach about the Popol Vuh (the creation myth of the Maya), Maya glyphs, the Maya calendar and mathematics, and about contemporary Maya crafts.  And, of course, we will teach Kachiquel, the local indigenous language of the town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes . 



In June we launched an experimental after-school program to expose the kids to English.  At first we offered the classes from Monday through Thursday.  Then, after the first two weeks, we continued the program only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Since all the kids in the class were in primary school, we kept it pretty simple.  We taught the English words for the colors, the numbers, a few body parts, the alphabet, and some common objects that the kids see every day.  Throw in a few songs, contests, and games, and you get a pretty enthusiastic group of young English speakers.

These English classes were part of an initiative that will be continued.  We expect to have much more to report on this project in the near future.



So who taught these English classes?  Volunteers.

Two young volunteers from the U.S. (aged 14 and 17) made the trip to Guatemala in June and July to do some studying, some vacationing, and to contribute to the project.  These young ladies attended Spanish school in the mornings and helped teach English to our students in the afternoons.

They were joined by three other more experienced American volunteers already in Guatemala , so we had a great group for our initial English classes.  Two of these volunteers are still in Guatemala and continuing the classes two days a week.  Our director in Guatemala is donating space free of charge in a house owned by her grandmother, so the expense of offering the classes is minimal.

Every English speaker has something to offer as a volunteer in our program.  But other skills, such as arts, crafts, music, and a willingness to help with basic math, can all help further our cause in Guatemala .  Keep us in mind if you have a free week or two, and want to do something really different, and a lot of fun.


Fun, Games, and Education in San Antonio



Like kids everywhere, kids in Guatemala love to play on the computer.  The only problem is that they have never had computers to play with.  But now, thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have two laptop computers and printers for the kids to use, for play or for school. 

We also plan to buy a number of “tickets” at a local internet café.  These tickets will be given to the children to allow them to get on the internet at the café.  Also, as appropriate, they can receive basic training on the computer.

We also now have a color printer/copier, an overhead projector, and a slide projector, all donated to the project.  Such equipment, while common in our own communities, is not at all common in Guatemala .  We will make good use of these items going forward.



We are often asked about our “school in Guatemala .”  Well, we don’t have a school in Guatemala .  The parents send their kids to the school of their own choosing, and we help them pay their educational expenses.  We do advise the families to pursue the best education possible for their children, but we neither encourage nor discourage any particular school or type of school.  The choice is theirs, and we respect that choice.

As mentioned above, we do offer classes.  These classes keep the kids mentally engaged, and hopefully teach them things they would not learn in their regular school.  These classes are completely voluntary, but so far interest has been strong.

Thus, we do offer aid for education and we do offer classes, but we do not have a “school” per se in Guatemala .



Please visit our website at where you can read more about the program, and see photos and read a brief description of each student.  Also, newsletters are on the website.  If you know someone who may have an interest in our work, please refer them to the website, or have them call or write to me directly.  I am always glad to talk to people about the project.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome, so please stay in touch.

Thanks again for your support.  


All the Best to Everyone,

Mark Pitts


The Aid and Education Project, Inc.   183 W. Fairview Ave.   South Orange , New Jersey   07079  USA   Tel  973-762-9870  Fax  973-761-0790