Dear friends, January is an exciting time in Guatemala as children are registering to go to school, there is the anticipation of a new year ahead.
Not all families look forward to this time. It is also a time of great stress and financial hardship for a lot of families. The families that we work with have a huge struggle to be able to give their children all that they need to be able to go to school. School is not free in Guatemala. Each student has to pay an inscription fee. This is not a lot and it varies from school to school. It can be from $5 US and up. For many of our families, this is what they earn in one day. If they have more than one child, which many families do, then it can be a week's wages just to register the children to go to school. After they register then the children will get a list of school supplies from the school. They have to have all of these supplies to start school. The school does not have the funds to provide supplies. If a student starts school without the supplies, which does happen sadly, parents think that if at least they were able to register them, then they will be able to start. Unfortunately, what happens is the child sits there with no supplies and cannot participate in the classes. Then there is the cost of the uniform and shoes. It is not obligatory to have a uniform but it is very much encouraged and it is important for the student to have a uniform. They also need shoes for everyday wear and they need shoes for physical education classes. We know of students who failed their grade because they did not have gym shoes to participate in the classes and were too embarrassed to go to school on those days. Students have to participate in parades and activities that require a uniform and shoes. If they don't participate then they can lose points off their grades as well. When I first came to Guatemala over 30 years ago now, a lot of parents in the Indigenous communities did not encourage their children to go to school. I don't think that they thought it would be possible for their children to become a professional or have a career. Generally, they did not think that there was much benefit in educating girls. Things changed slowly and now parents realize that their children through education have a chance at a brighter future. When we opened the Tierra Linda Jnr. High School at the request of the community in Tierra Linda over....??? years ago, the first class of students all told us that they wanted to be teachers. This was the only profession that they had any experience within their rural village. Now, our graduating classes have gone onto High School and onto University. The students have a myriad of professions that they want to follow...we have one student who wants to be an Astrophysicist, another a Chef, girls, and boys who are studying Computer Science, studying Nursing, Mechanics, and Teaching. The world has opened up to them. Parents no longer ask us just to consider sponsoring their sons. They ask for sponsorship equally for their daughters as well.
If you would like to sponsor a child , we have many students who are hoping to be able to get help to be able to be in school this year. Please go to this link: https://www.fundamaya.org/sponsor-a-child