The Aid and Education Project, Inc.

 

   “ El Proyecto de Ayuda y Educación “

                                                                      

                                                                                                                            January, 2013

                                                 

                                               Young caballero in Santiago de Atitlan

 

2012 (Not the End of the Maya World)

2012 was a good year, not least because it wasn’t the end of the world.  Much was accomplished by our students and staff.  We are now preparing for the new school year which starts this month. 

In the New Year we will continue with our sole mission: to promote education in indigenous communities of Guatemala.

Now, to bring everyone up to date – a review of activities in 2012:

 

Scholarship Program

The Scholarship Program is our primary program for accomplishing our mission, and it is the program to which we devote most of our time and money.  In this program, we offer scholarships to worthy students from very low income families.  Each scholarship provides about 85% of the cost of a student’s education (matriculation fees, monthly school fees, school supplies, uniforms, and transportation as needed for older students).  To stay in the program, a student must maintain his or her grades to an acceptable standard, and older students must continue to progress toward their career goals.

At the end of 2012, we had just over 30 students with scholarships.  We had students from primary school up to, and including, graduate school.

Most of these students are sponsored by individuals in the US and Canada.  Others are covered by donations from one of the foundations that support our efforts. 

 

A Great Success Story:

Susana Raymundo, is from the village of Nebaj, situated in a remote part of Guatemala that witnessed the worst fighting during the civil war in Guatemala. 

   

    

Susana Raymundo at the beginning of her university career

Susana wanted to pursue a degree in physical therapy, but could never do so in her own village.  Her family did not have the funds to help her.  Also, they did not like the idea of her moving to a distant town to attend the university – often children never return to their community once they leave, and girls on their own in the city can be in danger.

Nonetheless, Susana moved to Xela (also known as Quetzaltenango) and pursued her degree.  We helped with a scholarship, and she demonstrated considerable initiative in obtaining help from another group to help with her living expenses.

After years of study, and lots of financial and personal difficulties, she has now graduated with a degree in Physical and Occupational Therapy.  She has recently taken a job in Sololá near Lake Atitlán where she will be working in a small clinic, “Los Volcanos,” with a group that includes a doctor, a dentist, and a psychologist.  She will complete the ensemble as the physical and occupational therapist.  

 

 

Susana at graduation in 2012

 

Programs for Women and Girls

In Guatemala, young women have always had significant challenges getting family money for education.  Although that norm is changing, there are still many talented and ambitious young women who need help.  Consequently, we have always set aside funds that we can devote to this need.  Specifically, we now concentrate our efforts in helping young women at the university level.

In 2012, we had 8 young women at the university level.  Since education at the university level is much more expensive than K-12, all such students are supported by a combination of individual sponsors and grants from foundations.

It is easy to overlook the significant change that university education for women represents for indigenous Guatemala.  These girls are studying all the same things that kids in the US study: business, psychology, computers, health care, etc.  Yet virtually all their mothers are completely illiterate.  The rate of change taking place in Guatemala today is absolutely remarkable. 

We are delighted to be part of that change and helping individuals make it happen.  The extra bonus from this effort is that these young women will almost surely see to it that all their own children (boys and girls) get the benefits of education.  Thus, our efforts get multiplied as time goes by.

 

Maya Cultural Education

 

   

Ancient Maya scribe

In promoting education in Guatemala, it is never our intention to re-make indigenous students in our own image.  But since modern education is Euro-American ethnocentric, we are always in danger of doing just that.

To counter this tendency, during the school vacation months (October to December), we offer “Vacation Maya Schools.”  In these schools, we partner with local groups and schools to  teach indigenous Maya students about their own remarkable history and culture.  Unfortunately, in the official schools there is little positive discussion of indigenous people, so our schools are often the only positive insight that indigenous students have of their past.

The themes in the schools include

The Maya calendar and its meaning

The Popol Vuh (the Maya story of creation)

The ancient Maya glyphic writing

Maya values and spirituality

Maya music and song

Maya art and painting

Maya games (especially the ball game)

The indigenous language spoken in the community

 

There are also visits with older members of the community to talk about traditional values and ways of life.  And finally, most students get to visit the ruins of an ancient Maya city on the last day of class.

Last year 1,945 youngsters from 13 indigenous communities attended these classes.  Obviously, as far as the kids are concerned, the classes are a big success.  

 

                       

                 Learning about tradition weaving                                                Offerings at a tradition Maya ceremony                                   

                                             

                                      Graduates from the “Maya School” with their diplomas

 

Welcome, Evelyn

Before wrapping it up, we’d like to welcome Evelyn Morgner as a new Board member who is volunteering as Director of Development.  As such, she is involved in developing new donor cultivation strategies, and soliciting funds for our current activities, as well as working with donors who would like to plan long-term gifts to support the work in Guatemala.

Evelyn’s professional background is as an investment consultant with Cambridge Associates, KPMG, and Citibank.  Also, of course, she sponsors students in Guatemala.  

Evelyn and Family

 

Our Organization

Finally, we’d like to remind everyone that we are an IRS-registered 501(c)3 charity, so donations are in most cases fully tax-deductible.  And, as always, the officers and directors of the organization pay all US overhead so that 100% of donations go for the work we are doing in Guatemala.

Please send us your comments and suggestions.  We appreciate your feedback.

We sincerely thank everyone for their help and donations in 2012, and wish you a great 2013.

 

for The Aid and Education Project, Inc.,

Mark Pitts

 

The Aid and Education Project, Inc.    14 Zander Lane    Randolph , New Jersey   07869    USA   Office: 973-366-3119  Cell: 973-769-9827

email: mpitts@aidanded.org                                                                                                                        www.aidanded.org