Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in Latin America. Through support of existing educational programs, our organization hopes to improve the level of education in Guatemala. Most villages only offer school through what we would consider the 6th grade. Children in small aldeas (villages) who wish to pursue further education must move to a larger pueblo (or town). The cost of living away from home and travel expenses makes this impossible for most families to afford.
Refuge currently supports 2 full-time teachers in Sarstun. The enrollment of children has more than tripled since the teachers have begun their work. A second school has been built on property owned by Refuge International. It has been exciting to see the growing commitment to education in Sarstun with just a little help from Refuge.
Refuge is working with the Guatemalan Department of Education on a new program to bring "junior high" via DVD to remote villages. The Telesecundaria program (or televised secondary school) will allow children living in remote villages to continue their education beyond the 6th grade without leaving their homes. Refuge purchased a generator for one village, Cerro Blanco, so they can run the televisions and computers for the program. (They have no electricity in this village.)
How can you help?
Underwrite a teacher. Provide school supplies or Spanish books. Supplies are collected and shipped to schools in the areas where Refuge is currently working. We welcome your suggestions on group or classroom "adoptions.”
One of the requests that Refuge gets from every school in every village that we visit is a request for school desks. Thanks to the generosity of the Ralph, Lajoie and Strohsahl Sunday School Classes and other individuals from Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, 40 desks were delivered to the villages of Sarstun and Sarstun Creek. The children carried the desks up the mountain to their school and were elated with their new "seats."
School in Sarstun Creek, Guatemala
American Youth for Equal Educational Opportunities
One group of wonderful students in Washington, AYFEEO (American Youth for Equal Educational Opportunities) collected supplies and funds to help the school children in Sarstun. Here is their story in their own words:
"Derek and I are two juniors who have always received the best education that our district has been able to provide us. Growing up, we've come to realize that not all children have the same opportunities that may have had. We decided to start an organization, with some assistance from a local organization called Youth Venture, called American Youth For Equal Educational Opportunities (AYFEEO) that aims to provide less fortunate children with educational materials so that they may learn and succeed in school.
"A friend actually mentioned your organization and we thought that it was absurd that children don't have the chance to get at least a middle school education. To help out your cause, we spent two days in a local mall collecting donations and raising awareness about the education situation in Sarstun, Guatemala. In all, we raised over 750 dollars and countless supplies that are currently en route to you!"
-Alex Ruan & Derek Tsang
Here is a copy of the message they sent with these supplies:
"To the Children of Sarstun:
"In America we are very privileged to have a well-supported education system. Many of us, however, take this system for granted and don’t realize how amazing an opportunity it is to receive a quality education. We hope that, with these supplies, we will be able to help you receive quality educations as well.
"We are very hopeful for your futures and the future of Guatemala. We hope that you take advantage of this opportunity to learn and to grow in life. We know that at times school may seem just like work but it is very important to learn so that you may grow up to be successful. We hope you not only use these supplies to learn and grow to the best of your potential but also that you learn how to help others and that giving back is just as important as receiving.
"We wish you the very best of luck for your future and hope that your educations will be filled with excitement and wonder, just as ours are. We sincerely hope that these supplies, as meager as they are, will help improve the quality of your educations and your lives. Know that there are those throughout the world—particularly Refuge International—who truly care about your futures and educations.
American Youth for Equal Educational Opportunities”
We should all be so generous!