Deep in the lush farmlands of Guatemala, there is a small village called Amatillo.
In the village of Amatillo, there is no electricity. Thanks to a nearby Fruit Farm that employs many of the villagers, they do have running water.
And as with all villages, there are many children running around.
Filled with curiosity about their foreign visitors...
In this village there is a school. La escuela de Amatillo (Amatillo School) is a three room schoolhouse, for grades Kindergarten to six. The average Guatemalan child has a grade four education before they go to work. The average Guatemalan earns 25 Quetzales a day (~$4 / day).
We visited the school and found it to be in deplorable condition. Let us show you what we saw.
Many of the children’s desks are bent and broken. The teachers have two broken, termite infested whiteboards. One of them has a large hole in it.
The windows have not only missing but broken panes of glass.
The teacher's desks consist of a rusty metal base topped with disintegrating particleboard. They use tape to keep it all together.
There are barely any school supplies found on the one bent shelving unit.
The principal’s office is a dark closet currently being used as a storage unit.
There is one bathroom inside the school, that currently does not work.
Outside there are three toilet stalls, one with a broken door. None of the toilets work. There is no sink for hand washing.
On one side of the building there’s a partly finished kitchen project, started by another group ten years ago. It is currently being used as a storage area.
And that plank of wood? Is their only play area. They run up and down it all the time, giggling as kids do, to see who gets to the top the fastest.
There’s a small area with a sink...
and opposite that something we might call a range top. Where one can start a fire underneath, place a grill on top. And this is where they cook breakfast for the children, and if they don't get called back home to work, they also get lunch.
There is no fencing around the perimeter of the school so the children roam freely, leaving the parents to wonder about their safety.
In Guatemala, the school year starts in January, and runs through to October. In order to attend school you have to be a legally registered Guatemalan citizen. And you need to start the school year with a School Supply Starter Pack.
This becomes a twofold problem.
Since there is no official hospital or any kind of record keeping in these small villages, the children are born at home and without any official documentation.
The cost for a family to register a child as a citizen is approximately 150 Quetzales (~US$20).
The second problem is that in order to start the school year in January, they have to have a School Supply Starter Pack. The government funded supplies do not arrive until April. By then half the school year is over, and the children have already missed too much, so most don’t bother attending.
The cost of the School Supply Starter Pack is 75 Quetzales (~US $10) per child.
The sailors at Catamaran Marina have come together to adopt this school. We've set up some goals and are going to get to work!
Our goals are to make sure each child is able to attend school. To make the school an integral part of the community. To empower the teachers with the tools necessary to provide the best possible education. To make the area a safe place. A place where the children want to come to. A place to learn. To play. To Grow.
With your generous donations, we have budgeted for and are planning to accomplish the following:
* Fence the perimeter of the school: To keep farm animals out, keep the children within (for safety reasons), and allow the teachers to have accountability for attendance;
* Repair the classrooms and desks to provide a safe and effective learning environment;
* Relocate the kitchen / finish the project to provide a sanitary location for food preparation;
* Provide water filters for safe drinking water;
* Repair the toilets and improve their conditions;
* Build a three faucet sink beside the toilets for washing;
* Provide Starter Packs for each child;
* Provide the Funds to allow the children to be officially registered as Guatemalans;
* Provide each teacher with a functional desk;
* Provide tools for each teacher to better educate their students;
* Provide educational games, and cabinets to keep toys and supplies in each classroom;
* Renovate the principal’s office to be an area from where to supervise the school;
* Provide the paint and repaint the schoolhouse in Guatemalan colors: blue and white;
* Build a playground where the children can just be children.
We feel that with some dollars and some hard work, we can make a huge difference in the lives of these children.
A chance to go to an inviting place that we can call a school. A chance to be children. A chance to learn, to grow.
If you educate the children the entire community benefits. And perhaps offer them a better future.
With many Helping Hands we Thank You.
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