The Aid and Education Project, Inc.
“ El Proyecto de Ayuda y Educación “
August 3, 2005
Greetings to everyone.
We are making a lot of progress on several fronts in Guatemala, but
nothing would be possible without your support.
In recent months, we have
spent a lot of time and effort on our new Computer Literacy Program.
The goal of this program is to create small computer centers in 36
orphanages and at least 12 schools in poor areas of Guatemala.
In this effort we will work with Orphan Resources International (Ephrata,
PA), and the K’inal Winik [Maya] Cultural Center at Cleveland State
Although Guatemala is a
deeply traditional culture, computing and other facets of the modern world are
important. With basic computer
skills and knowledge of Windows, spreadsheets, and word processing, students are
much more able to continue their studies into higher grades, especially at the
university level. Access to
computers will give our greatly disadvantaged students the first educational
advantage that they have ever had (since most students in Guatemala have little
or no access to computers). If our
kids can acquire and demonstrate even basic computer skills, they will get a
real boost academically and in the job market.
Roughly speaking, we need
250 working computers for this project. So
far we have at least 70 computers in Guatemala, in transit, or waiting to be
shipped. We hope to have as many
machines as possible on the ground and working by the time the next school year
starts in Guatemala in mid-January of 2006.
For the most part,
equipment acquired to date has been donated, although we have had to buy some
peripherals and accessories, such as used printers, CD readers, toner, and ink
Counting the cost of
peripherals and accessories, as well as shipping and packing expenses, our
average cost per working system is about $25.
We would certainly
appreciate any donation, large or small, for this cause.
Your gift of $25 can be the gift of a disadvantaged student becoming
computer savvy, instead of frightened of computers and the technological world
that they represent.
We now have 47 students
with scholarships in our project. Of
these, 4 are currently in the university. And,
we have another 4 university students scheduled to start in January of 2006.
Most of the new
scholarships awarded in 2005 have been in our second base of operations,
Chichicastenango. Chichi is a very
traditional town, but education is now a top priority for many parents and for
many young people. As funds become
available, we hope to award many more scholarships in this community.
We are very happy to report
that our half-day clinic in San Antonio is now up and running.
Indigent patients (first screened by our director in San Antonio) are now
able to consult a doctor on Wednesday afternoons and, in most cases, receive the
medicine they need. Most care (about
80%) is for children. Without such
inexpensive care, children and infants often go without the medical care they
need. In addition to causing much
unneeded suffering, lack of treatment not infrequently leads to more serious
health problems as well as a high level of childhood mortality.
Our clinic is, or course,
no more than a drop in the bucket if one views the problem as a whole.
But for those receiving care, it feels like a very big drop.
Since prevention is the
best cure, we are working to help maintain health in the communities.
In Guatemala, where the diet is heavy on starch and light on vegetables,
greens, and protein, we have provided vitamins by the tens of thousands to local
schools. This ensures that students
receive the daily vitamins that the doctors tell us they are not getting in
their normal diet.
We also provide weekly food
supplements to the poorest families in our project.
Primarily, we make sure that they receive some source of protein, which
they generally cannot afford, but which is especially important for growing
Maya Cultural Education is
our program to teach indigenous Maya kids about their own history and culture.
Unfortunately, the kids rarely learn about their own past in the local
schools where indigenous culture is often treated with distain.
For several years, we have
offered these programs in San Antonio Aguas Calientes and in Chichicastenango
when school is not in session. This
year, we are happy to offer similar classes in Chocolá (on the costal plain
southwest of Lake Atitlán). These
classes are being organized by an American archaeologist (Jonathan Kaplan) who
is directing a major excavation at a nearby ancient Maya site.
One challenge we face in
the Maya Cultural Education Program is that there is little material on the Maya
culture available in Spanish or English on a level that is appropriate for
children and young adults. Partly to
help remedy this problem, we are working with the Instituto de Lingüistica y
Educación (ILE) at the Universidad de Rafael Landívar in Guatemala.
This institute is producing a series of books on Maya culture for
children which we will use in our classes, and then provide evaluation and
feedback. We expect that our
collaboration with this prestigious group will add a great deal of value to our
efforts. Likewise, we hope that we
will be able to give them valuable feedback from our classes offered to
indigenous Maya students.
In a similar vein,
volunteers working with our organization have produced books on the Maya
culture. These include non-technical
books on Maya glyphs that can be used in schools in Guatemala.
In Guatemala, it is very
difficult for poor families to find the money to educate their kids, male or
female. Yet it is a fact that women
and girls generally have less educational opportunities than men or boys.
Women, however, usually eventually end up providing a substantial portion
of the family income. Thus, without
education, everyone loses, the women who don’t have the job skills they need,
and the men who must carry a heavier burden than they should have to.
There are no winners here. It
is a lose-lose situation.
With this in mind, in 2004
we applied for and received several grants to increase the number of women in
our program. With these funds, we
were able to admit many more women and girls, and even more are scheduled to
start when the new school year begins in January of 2006.
We are concentrating especially on young women at the university level
and high school girls who are acquiring a salable skill.
(In Guatemala, the high schools are in many cases much like our trade
Luckily, we have received
some funds for this purpose for 2006 as well, albeit not enough to sustain all
the students in their studies. We
need to find sponsors for these young women.
If you might have an
interest in sponsoring one of these girls, or simply making a one-time donation
for their education, please take a look at our website under “Students Without
Given that all these young women are far beyond the age where most students drop
out of school, and given how hard they have had to work to get where they are,
we can guarantee you any donation will be well used and deeply appreciated.
True or False:
“Things Will Never Change Down There.”
We hear this a lot:
“You’re wasting your time. Things
will never change down there (i.e. in places like Guatemala).”
Could they be right, especially given how much there is to do?
Let’s try to answer the
question. Take a look at the photos
of the ten young women below. These
are the latest students to join our project in Chichicastenango.
What do they all have in common? They
are studying pretty much the same things that young women study in the U.S. ---
to become psychologists, to practice medicine, to become secretaries, to become
teachers, to work in business. They
work on computers, they manipulate complicated mathematical formulas, and they
read literature. However, they do
have one thing in common which they share with very very few girls in our
country. All of their mothers are
So, now we have the answer
to the question. Will things ever
change down there? The answer is
that things already have changed down there.
Now all they need --- these
young women, plus a lot of other girls, and boys, and young men --- is a little
help from us to stay on course and make it to the finish line.
Thanks for your continued
support. Your comments and
suggestions are always welcome.
Aid and Education Project, Inc.