Newsletter  May 2006




The Aid and Education Project, Inc.


      “ El Proyecto de Ayuda y Educación “







May, 2006



Thanks to everyone, we now have a good start on the new school year that began in January.  More and more kids and young adults are taking part in our programs.  Thanks to all of you, it’s working.


Below you will find a brief update on our five major programs: (1) the Scholarship Program, (2) the Computer Literacy Program, (3) the Health & Nutrition Program, (4) the Maya Cultural Education Program, and (5) the ESL Program.




The Scholarship Program


There are now 53 students in the Scholarship Program.  We provide these students with almost all of what they need to continue their schooling: initial and monthly school fees, school books, school supplies, school uniforms, fees for “special classes” (such as computer classes), and occasional class trips.  Children from the poorest families also receive a backpack and shoes, as needed, as well regular food supplements.


In many, if not most, cases the students in this program would leave school to work if they did not get outside help.  In fact, many were not in school before they were accepted into the program.


Over the last year, the composition of the students with scholarships has changed.  While it is not our aim to favor any group, it is a fact that families in Guatemala with limited resources are unlikely to spend money for their girls’ education.  Some of our donors have recognized this fact, and have targeted their donations to allow us to offer scholarships especially for women.  Their help has made a tremendous difference for the girls and young women thus admitted to the program.


We also now have more students at the university and post-high school level.  Many of the post-high school students are studying computers --- a good choice since the computer revolution is just beginning in Guatemala and is sure to provide many jobs going forward.


While still very inexpensive by our standards, education at these higher levels is far beyond the means of poor families.  It is doubtful that any one of our scholarship holders at this level would be able to continue in school without help.


We hope to continue offering new scholarships at all levels.  Without a doubt, there are few, if any, better ways to invest in the future of these poor communities.




Computer Literacy


Last summer we began our Computer Literacy Program in earnest.  The goal of this program is to provide used (but working) computers to schools, orphanages, and libraries that otherwise could not afford computers.  With basic computer know-how, or at least a lack of techno-phobia, students will have job opportunities in the future, whatever their area of interest.


We set a one-year goal last summer of obtaining 250 computers, a goal that we thought was probably impossible.  Now, thanks to many small donors, and one very large donor, we have over 300 working computers waiting to be shipped to Guatemala.  For most of the students at the schools and in the orphanages, these computers will be the first time they have ever had regular access to digital technology. 


Even in Guatemala, computer acumen is vital for careers in business and the sciences.  Even more traditional fields, such as tourism and agriculture, are using computers and the internet more regularly.  And of course, like in our own countries, there are plenty of jobs just keeping all that technology working.




Health & Nutrition


Starting this year in Chichicastenango, we are offering health & nutrition classes for children.  The idea is simple.  Most health problems in poor communities are totally preventable.  So, we want to teach children early not to drink un-pure water, to wash their hands before they eat, to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and make sure they don’t spend all day breathing in smoke from cooking fires.  Good habits can be learned early and young kids will teach other family members good habits.  As many of us already know, a preaching child can be a very strong impetus for change.


We also continue to send vitamins to Guatemala.  Working with a couple of local schools, we are slowly distributing vitamins by the tens of thousands to make sure kids are getting what they need each day, even those not converted to the fruit and vegetable-rich diets advocated in the health classes.  We also continue to provide food supplements for the poorest families.


Assuming we can obtain the required funding, this year we hope to start a program to combat iron anemia.  Many women of menstruating age in Guatemala suffer from iron anemia.  Iron anemia can cause severe lethargy and decreased ability to learn.  Combining 6 months of iron supplements with education on the proper iron-rich diet, can lead to a permanent cure and a change in old habits.




Maya Cultural Education


During school vacations, we offer classes on Maya history and culture to indigenous kids and young adults.  Unfortunately, the Maya past and present are not taught in the local schools.  In 2005, over 200 kids attended our classes in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Chichicastenango, Antigua, Chocolá, and San Pedro La Laguna. 


This year, we are planning the classes in conjunction with the Instituto de Lingüistica y Educación (ILE) at the Universidad de Rafael Landívar in Guatemala.  Together, we will standardize the curriculum (while making allowances for local customs), and offer a logical progression for students who are returning for the 2nd or 3rd year.  We will also work with ILE to provide or create additional materials in Spanish on the Maya culture at a level appropriate for young students.


In addition to offering classes in 2005, we distributed reading material on Maya history and culture to many students.  Few poor families have any real books at home.  Thus, by giving students reading material on Maya culture and history, we hope to promote literacy in the home, as well as to disseminate knowledge about their indigenous culture.


Although classes and reading materials cost little, they do keep kids engaged and thinking during the long vacation months.  More importantly, they give indigenous Maya kids the sense of pride that they deserve.




ESL Program (English as a Second Language)


We are proud to announce that Carlyn Syvanen has joined our board and will direct the ESL Program going forward.  Carlyn is a retired ESL teacher and instructor of ESL teachers, and has teaching experience in several foreign countries, including Guatemala.


Initially, we want to offer English classes, as well as one-on-one or small group instruction, during the school vacation months of November and December.  However, instruction during other months is also possible.


If you have an interest in spending at least one month teaching English in Guatemala, please contact us.  The salary is terrible (there isn’t one), but we can help you make living arrangements and get settled in and connected with local people.


Positions are available in Antigua, San Antonio Aguas Calientes (about 20 minutes from Antigua), Chichicastenango, and San Pedro La Laguna (on Lake Atitlan).  If you have an interest, please contact Carlyn directly at




Thank You


Poco a poco, we are helping make changes in a beautiful, yet terribly poor country.  Your help is greatly appreciated, especially by the students and families in Guatemala who understand that without your help, things would be very different for them. 


As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.  Please share your ideas with us.



All the Best,



Mark Pitts

Executive Director








The Aid and Education Project, Inc.    183 W. Fairview Ave.   South Orange, New Jersey  07079   USA   Tel: 973-762-9870  Fax: 973-761-0790