In this community on beautiful Lake Atitlán, students can only study beyond grade school if their families can afford tuition. With the help of our friends at the Cooperativa Spanish School, we're matching people who are willing to provide scholarships ('becas' in Spanish) with students of promise so they can continue their studies through secondary school and potentially beyond. The cost is $400 to $600 per year depending on the age of the student and most of us are committing to at least 6 years of sponsorship, 1 year at a time.

We currently have 12 sponsored students. We're hoping to add more students for the 2011 school year (begins in January) as well as contributing further to education in San Pedro. If you'd like to contribute, donations of any size are gratefully received. We have established an emergency food fund and also hope to support the Cooperativa's home building projects; more on that below. You can contact Stacey Holeman at hopefulist(at)yahoo.com if you'd like more information.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

School Visit and Dinner Party

On Friday, July 16th, there were 2 special events in addition to family visits. In the afternoon I visited the school most of the Beca students attend (Instituto Mixto Educación Basica Por Cooperativa Luisa y Benjamin Paul) with Mynor, pictured above with students in their school uniforms.

Later, the staff at the Cooperativa Spanish School helped me put on a dinner for the Beca families. All the families attended, the food was delicious, and if it meant even half as much to the families as it did to me, it was a huge success.

The kitchen crewLorenzo, the director of the Cooperativa Spanish School, speaking to the families

The servers
Some of the guests
The set-up and clean-up crew

Grateful me with the students for a final picture until I visit again next year

Family Visits

The week of July 11th through 17th I had the intense and emotional pleasure of meeting with all of our Beca students in San Pedro La Laguna. I gave them each a small blank book in which to draw and write about their dreams, and talked to them about my life and the inception of the Beca Project. I got to see 2nd term grades for most of the students - proof of their hard work! - and had the opportunity to encourage them and ask them about their favorite courses and their plans for the future. To many I was able to deliver messages, letters, and photos from their sponsors. The students speak Spanish so I was able to communicate directly with them, but most of the parents speak only Tzutujil, the local Maya dialect, so my friend Mynor translated our messages to each other. I've posted a few of the photos below and more can be found by clicking the 2010 blog link.

Josefa Angelina
Maria Elena
Maria Cecilia
José Antonio
Juan Carlos

These final 2 photos were taken of Florinda and the 4 youngest of her 6 kids. This is not currently a Beca family but the Cooperativa School is raising funds to build them a new home; they've raised about 65% of the $9000 cost as of July, 2010. I'm hoping the Beca Project will be able to help this family - and other marginalized families - realize their dream of a safe and secure home for their children.