The Aid and Education Project, Inc.
“ El Proyecto de Ayuda y Educación “
Dear Sponsors, Donors & Friends:
First, please accept our apologies for not staying in touch over the last few months. The project is growing fast and we’re making a lot of progress, but progress takes time.
There are now 40 students in the project who receive ‘scholarships,’ up from 31 at the beginning of the year. In addition, there are 11 other students who do not yet have sponsors and so receive partial aid for education. We also now have about 95 children and young people who attend the weekend and/or the vacation schools.
The project has expanded geographically as well. We now provide educational aid to students from poor families in Chichicastenango, about 2 hours drive from our base in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Chichi is a traditional market and weaving town that retains a very strong sense of its Maya past, despite the widespread poverty.
Our organization has received grants this year from four different foundations that give at the international level. All the grants were relatively small. (We are not quite Ford Foundation material yet). In most cases, the grants are a one-time donation to help us expand in some area, with the expectation that over time we will be able to obtain public funds in order to continue the funded program.
As described below, these grants have helped the organization expand in several areas that would not otherwise have been possible.
‘Bargain’ and ‘medicine’ are two words you don’t often hear in the same sentence anymore. Yet, we have found avenues for obtaining prescription and non-prescription medicines at a fraction of their normal cost.
So, here’s what we can do.
As a charity, we can obtain prescription and non-prescription medicines
and supplies at steeply discounted prices. Assuming
we don’t encounter any unexpected snags, we will take such medicines and
Consequently, we can do a lot of good for just a few hundred dollars. Being a non-profit does have its advantages.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EDUCATION
We are proud to report that several foundations have donated money to our organization to help indigenous Guatemalan women and girls go to school. While lack of funds severely constrains the opportunities for all the indigenous population, it is often the girls who are hit the hardest. Whether a product of harsh economic reality or prejudice, it is not unusual that the boys in a family go to school while girls at the same level stay home.
It is also not unusual to encounter families in
Given the range of problems, there is no one solution. Consequently, we will work with women and girls in a variety of circumstances and life stages. The grants we have received will help little girls start and/or continue in primary school. They will also help girls who want to go to high school/ technical school to learn a practical skill. There will also be funds for young women who want to attend the university, but need help with books, lab fees, transportation, etc.
Other adult women, those who are illiterate, will be offered the opportunity to learn to read. Fortunately, Spanish speakers can learn to read reasonably well fairly quickly because the language is highly phonetic. In addition to reading courses, these women will be offered courses on health, hygiene, and nutrition.
The grants we have received to help women and girls in indigenous villages are not large. However, we plan to build on our base and hopefully obtain additional funds in 2005. We are very happy to help the women and girls in the villages where we work, but of course we are also happy to know that as women and girls advance, the burden on the men and boys is lightened as well.
COMPUTERS & ENGLISH
We are beginning to alleviate both of these problems,
albeit in a small way. First of all,
several of our sponsors have generously donated computers to take to
Additionally, we have contracted with a local internet café to provide computer time to our students. Students in our program can now go to the café, work and play on the computers there and get basic instruction and computer help as needed. While hardly expensive by our standards, parents simply do not have the money to pay for such computer time.
We are working with the local Rotary Club (here in the
In terms of teaching English, we recruit volunteers from a
local volunteer agency. The
volunteers are mostly young people (twenty-somethings) who are in
FOOD FOR POOREST FAMILIES
Most of us, if put to the test, would choose food over
For those students who are too young to work, the problem is even worse. Besides the fact that is almost impossible to pay attention and study when you’re hungry, poor nutrition at an early age often leads to poor health throughout life.
Fortunately, we do not have any families in our project who
are starving or severely malnourished. However,
we do have families who just can’t afford good food.
For these reasons, we now give food to the poorest families in our project. Every Saturday, the most needy families come and pick up a basket of fresh foods. There is always some protein (chicken, beef, fish, or eggs), plus the green and yellow vegetables that, while inexpensive, tend to get ignored in the local diet.
We are also hoping to start a vitamin program soon and provide each child at least a half a vitamin every day. The doctor who gives the kids their yearly physicals has advised us that many of the kids are in real need of vitamin supplements.
Finally, at the monthly meetings with parents our director frequently discusses nutrition and dietary issues. Of course, it is always hard to change someone’s eating habits (even, or especially, our own). But we have made a start. We are just happy that in San Antonio Aguas Calientes there is no McDonald’s. Yet.
MAYA CULTURAL EDUCATION
Through our Maya Cultural Education Program, we offer a ‘
Thanks to funds provided by two grants, we have been able
to expand the
The Maya Cultural Education Program has proved to be very popular. We hope to make this program a permanent part of our project.
HELP US CONTACT OTHERS
Please refer everyone you know to our website at www.aidanded.org . There they will find a description of the Project, information and pictures of the students, and past newsletters.
If you know a place that would welcome small brochures (2.8” x 11” tri-folds), please contact us and we will ship them to you, together with brochure holders.
VOLUNTEERING IN THE
You can help kids in
And, if you are looking for the working vacation of your life, we have a couple of good ideas. They involve teaching English to some really cute indigenous kids, who just happen to live in the villages where we work.
Please contact us if you have an interest.
As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.
Thanks again for your support.
ALL THE BEST,
Aid and Education Project, Inc. 183