The Aid and Education Project, Inc.
“ El Proyecto de Ayuda y Educación “
Dear Sponsors, Donors & Friends:
January is the start of the new school year in Guatemala. This means we’ve been buying tons of school supplies, getting uniforms, paying lots of school fees, and generally working frantically for several weeks until life more or less returns to normal again.
Things are going well in the project, although this year we have had our share of setbacks: a family breakup with kids moving to different locations, and a couple of kids who have left school. But we also had our first two graduates this year: a girl who got her degree in hotel and restaurant management, and a boy who now has a degree in truck mechanics. Both can now work, help their families and really make a difference.
Currently we are in the mist of implementing some new programs, expanding old programs, and generally making all programs run more efficiently. The programs are of course the only reason we exist. So, here’s a quick rundown on our reason for being:
THE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
The Scholarship Program is the main vehicle for getting students in school and
keeping them there. This year we
will have at least 45 students in the Scholarship Program, up from 40 at the end
of last year.
The Scholarship Program is the main vehicle for getting students in school and keeping them there. This year we will have at least 45 students in the Scholarship Program, up from 40 at the end of last year.
Through the Scholarship Program we pay most of the students’ educational expenses --- their school supplies, uniforms, and school fees. We also provide medical care for routine childhood illnesses, and a vacation school when regular school is not in session.
We now ask most families to contribute something to the cost of their child’s education. The motive is not to save money. Instead it is to make sure that the parents have an investment and stake in the education of their children. In most cases, having to foot part of the bill makes parents more involved and interested in their kids’ progress in school.
Last year we received two grants for the specific purpose of admitting more women and girls into the Scholarship Program. Thus, in this new school year, we have many new young women with scholarships. Most of the new girls are from Chichicastenango, which is a well known market town with strong indigenous traditions.
Most of these girls are in high school / trade school, and a few are at the university level. Most are training to become accountants, computer assistants, or teachers. That’s quite an accomplishment when you think about it, considering that most of their mothers are illiterate.
It is of course great to have all these new students in the program. But, we received the grant money to admit these new students with the understanding that their education would eventually be sustained by public donations. So, we do need your help to keep these kids in school. Please refer friends and family to our newly updated website www.aidanded.org. There they can see all the students currently without sponsors.
We now have over $20,000 worth of prescription and non-prescription medicine in Guatemala (that we purchased for a small fraction of this amount), and the plan is to take a similar amount later this year. To make sure everything goes as planned, the medicine will be inventoried, accounted for, and distributed by our accountant in Guatemala.
Our director in San Antonio
is talking to the poorest families in her community.
She will determine who is eligible to receive our help.
Most people will be asked to pay a small share of the cost.
(In the minds of many poor people in
To get the medicine to the
people who need it, we have contracted with a local doctor in
This doctor has worked with us before, namely by giving the kids in the Scholarship Program their yearly physicals and eye & ear exams. We know we are working with a reliable healthcare giver.
Best of all, the doctor
will see the patients in his own clinic and charge us only $30 for each
half-day’s work. Now that’s a
bargain, even in
NUTRITION CLASSES, FOOD, & VITAMINS
Many of the health problems
We are trying to alleviate these problems through three different programs. In our Food Program in San Antonio we give food to the poorest families in our program every Saturday morning. There is always protein (chicken, beef, fish, or eggs), and there are always fresh vegetables.
We have also offered
Nutrition Classes for mothers in
Finally, we have initiated a Vitamin Program. We currently have substantial quantities of daily chewable vitamins in Guatemala which we were able to buy cheaply here in the U.S. To distribute these vitamins, we work with a couple local schools so that teachers can give the kids in their class one vitamin each day. Over time, these vitamin supplements will make a lot of difference.
We all know that when it comes to computers you learn by doing. You can’t get it from a book. But, if you never have access to computers, you could be a computer genius and still never learn how to use one.
Through several generous
donations, we now have a small stock of used computers in
Since our computers will not be hooked up to the internet, all the students with Scholarships can use the internet at any of the local internet cafes. All they have to do is bring us the receipt for whatever they paid for internet time, and we reimburse them.
On another front, we are working with a group of young women who plan to start in the university next term. We are offering to pay for short computer courses for them so that they are well prepared to start studying at the college level.
Finally, we have been able to lend used computers to some of our best students. These computers allow the students to learn the basics of WORD, EXCEL, and Windows at their own pace and while doing their homework. There’s no better way to put an old computer back to work.
MAYA CULTURAL EDUCATION
During school vacations we offer classes on Maya Culture. Most of the students in our program are indigenous kids descended from the ancient Maya, yet they learn nothing about their history and culture in the local schools. In our Maya Cultural Education classes, we fill part of that need.
In these classes the teachers explain the Maya calendar & mathematics, Maya glyphs, and Maya crafts. They also show the students examples of great ancient Maya art and architecture. And they teach about the Popol Vuh, the great creation story of the Maya people. These classes give indigenous kids a pride in themselves and their ancestors that they are denied in the overriding Latino culture.
As part of the Maya
Cultural Program students take a field trip to one of the many ancient Maya
ruins in Guatemala. In December the
Photos from the Mixco Viejo
trip as well as photos from the “closing ceremony” for the Maya classes in
San Antonio in December are posted on our website.
(Go to www.aidanded.org,
then click on Photos of Student
We are not the only ones in Guatemala interested in teaching Maya culture. There are also many local groups that want to teach Maya kids about their heritage. However, there is very little educational material available for doing so. Educational material in Spanish on the Maya culture appropriate for children and young people is virtually non-existent. To help fill this need, we are working with volunteers to produce educational material on the Maya culture in Spanish (and English) appropriate for students.
Since the production of this material is by volunteers, it does not cost our organization or our donors anything. We gladly make this material available without cost to anyone who has an interest in teaching or learning about Maya culture.
Photo op in San Antonio Aguas Calientes
HELP US CONTACT OTHERS
Our most valuable contacts and donors often come from referrals from those of you who already know about our project. So, please, send everyone you know to our website.
On the website there are descriptions of our programs, facts about our organization, past and current newsletters, and information about and pictures of the students. And donors and sponsors can now make contributions with credit cards or PayPal through the web site.
Thanks for your support. These are your students, not ours.
All the Best,
Class Photo on a pyramid at
the Maya ruins of Mixco Viejo
Aid and Education Project, Inc. 183