Newsletter February 2007
The Aid and Education Project, Inc.
“ El Proyecto de Ayuda y Educación “
The new school year is now
As in earlier years, work in
The Scholarship Program
Nothing but education and self-sufficiency can end poverty. If children don’t go to school, they repeat the ancient cycle of their parents and grandparents. And it usually takes only 14-15 years for the cycle to repeat: first teenagers leave school to work as unskilled laborers, then pregnancy (within or without marriage), lots of kids at an early age, young parents unable to care for their kids financially. And then when their kids reach their early teens, they drop out of school to work without skills. And it all starts over again.
For these reasons, the Scholarship Program is the most important job --- getting kids in school and keeping them there. There are now over 60 kids with scholarships. About 2/3 are women and girls. Many are now way beyond the level of school that their parents ever attained. There are quite a few young men and women with scholarships who have at least one parent who is completely illiterate.
We give financial aid, and that helps. But most of the credit still belongs to the students. They are the ones with the really hard jobs, especially the older students. They slog it out day after day, with no spending money for themselves, long uncomfortable bus rides, household duties that do not stop just because they are in school. No luxuries, no decent place to study. Often there is illness in the family. And, in some cases students attend school against their parents’ will.
All of the students deserve hearty congratulations for what they have accomplished. Some have now graduated. Others, after having to leave school for a year, are now back. They deserve a lot of credit for what they are doing.
At long last, we received permission from the Customs Authority of Guatemala to send more computers to
It is hard to imagine how much access to a computer can mean to a poor student. With computers in Guatemala priced at least as high as they are in the U.S., a poor student whose family may bring in only $100-$200 in cash per month, would never be able to afford computer time at an internet café, much less their own “personal computer.”
In addition to distributing those computers already shipped, our goal is to provide all of our university and high school students with their own computer. Since laptops pose a much smaller customs problem, PLEASE send us your old laptop. As long as it will boot up, don’t worry if it is old, it will be used and reused. What better way is there to “recycle” an old laptop than give it to a poor student who will get years and years more use out of it?
If you have a laptop to give, please ship it the new address shown below.
Health & Nutrition
In 2007 we will continue
sending vitamins to
The Food Program will also continue. In this program we give meat and other protein rich foods, as well as vegetables, to the poorest families in our program.
Chichicastenango, we move into year 2 of the health and nutrition classes for
children. Since vegetables and fruit are
The hope is that children educated in nutrition will nag the whole family down the road to better eating habits.
Today English is important throughout the world. Consequently, when volunteers are available we offer English classes in various indigenous towns.
Last fall, Board Member and Director
of the ESL Program, Carlyn Syvanen, and her husband Steve Vause spent 6 weeks
in San Pedro La Laguna on the shores of beautiful
In December of 2005 my husband,
Steve, and I were introduced to the Aid and Education Project in
We were to go to San Pedro la
Laguna for six weeks. In Panajachel we
were met by Jennifer Kip, an American volunteer, who had been working with
education projects in San Pedro for several months. She helped us get our
That morning as we arrived at the school we found that there were three classes: about 25 ten to twelve year olds, 38 seven to nine year olds, and 15 five and six year olds. Steve had been planning to be my teaching assistant but since he was a retired middle school ESL teacher he took the oldest students. I had had experience with younger children so I took the middle group and Jennifer took the youngest.
For the first day we had planned to teach the simple dialogue “Hello. My name is______. What is your name?” As I tried to demonstrate the dialogue, calling on different students who would just sit there not responding, a hand shot up excitedly. Finally, someone got it. I started over: “My name is Carlyn. What is your name?” and he answered “My name is Tin.” I thought I had misheard him or that he misunderstood so I kept asking him over and over. But I was losing the attention of the rest of the class and I moved on with the lesson. The next school day I met the boy’s older cousin who spoke more English and asked him if his name was actually Tin, and it was. Later I discovered that there was a favorite restaurant of travelers in San Pedro near where Tin lived called Tin Tin’s, with a mural of the French cartoon character Tin Tin and one of his adventures in San Pedro la Laguna
We taught for seventy minutes a day three days a week. The numbers dwindled after the first week and we ended up with more manageable sized classes of 14-18. Everyday we taught a new song and worked at helping children understand the vocabulary. Before we taught “Who took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?” we brought in a jar full of cookies and invited each child to take a cookie. We rewrote “The Muffin Man” so that he became “The Taco Man” who lived in San Pedro.
By the end of the six weeks the children had books in English with the words to all the songs, several pages of vocabulary words and “An All About Me” book that they each had made where they had a picture they made and a sentence about what they liked doing, their families, favorite foods, animals, and colors. We knew we had succeeded when we walked through the streets of San Pedro and children would call out to us, “Hello, My name is ……. What is your name?”
We enjoyed our stay in San Pedro so much that we have decided to return next year.
For others who would be interested in volunteer teaching we would be happy to help you find lodging and put you in contact with others. We wrote up our lessons and have ideas about what worked best for us and would be willing to share those. For volunteers who are available any time in November and the first half of December, we could put you in contact with a vacation school. For those who would be available during other times of the year we would be able to put you in contact with after school opportunities to tutor.
Maya Cultural Education
In 2006, the Maya Cultural Education Program took off. In this program, the primary vehicle for teaching indigenous children and young adults about their own history is the “Vacation Maya Schools” that we offer each November and December.
All the Maya cultural
activities are now coordinated through Board Member and Director Ajpub’ Pablo
Garcia and his university (the Universidad Rafael Landívar). In 2006, the vacation schools were offered in
San Antonio Aguas Calientes,
In addition to helping students learn about Maya history and culture, we also help indigenous teachers further their own education in this area. Through educational materials, financial help for attending classes and conferences, and expert instruction offered by the Universidad Rafael Landívar, teachers make real advances in their own knowledge concerning this vital aspect of Maya identity.
New Address and Phone Number
We have moved. The new address is
The Aid and Education Project, Inc.
c/o Mark Pitts
The new phone number is 973-366-3119. Email is unchanged firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thanks to Everyone
We want to thank everyone
who has helped us in this effort in
We appreciate the faith you have put in us, and we take it very seriously.
For the Board of Directors,
The Aid and Education Project, Inc.
“El Proyecto de Ayuda y Educación”
The Aid and
Education Project, Inc. 14