Friday, November 17, 2017

Life-Changing Christmas Gifts

Tired of searching for the perfect present? Here are some ideas from San Antonio.

Give the gift of reading and learning
$20 will buy one or more books for the San Antonio Learner Centre Library, and we will print your friend’s name on a bookplate. We’re creating a community of readers in San Antonio, and they need more books to read! Your contribution also supports the general running of the Learner Centre, and that is making an enormous difference to the children of San Antonio.

Click on images to enlarge
Give food, fun and exercise to an Anciana
$85 will provide a frail elderly woman with a weekly nutritious lunch for 6 months, plus a social time of fun, stories, and exercise. We hope to continue providing this lunch twice a week, but need your help. Donations of any amount are welcome.

Your financial help will make a great difference to the lives of people in San Antonio. Your friends will probably prefer this gift to socks or ties, and you will get a tax receipt.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Guatemalan Scarf Sales - Nov 18, 25 and 26

We would love to see you at our 3 GUATEMALAN SCARF SALES



Saturday, Nov 18th - 9:30 - 1:00

10990 West Saanich Rd., North Saanich



Saturday and Sunday, Nov 25 and Nov 26 from 10 to 4

Saanich Fairgrounds, 1528 Stellys X Rd

In the Sunflower Room


Saturday, Nov 25th - 10 to 4

First Metropolitan Church Hall, 932 Balmoral 


BUY A GORGEOUS HANDWOVEN GUATEMALAN SCARF or MAKE A DONATION AS A CHRISTMAS GIFT instead of exchanging gifts with family, workmates or friends, and make a huge difference in a Mayan family's life. Stop by to see our beautiful gift cards.

Thanks to your generous support over the years, most people in the village of San Antonio Palopo on Lake Atitlan now have clean burning, fuel efficient stoves that have replaced dangerous open hearth fires. We we will continue to maintain them so they are safe and working well. 

Last year, with input from parents, teachers and community leaders, we established  a much-needed Learning Centre and Library for San Antonio's children, who are falling behind and dropping out of school as early as Grade 6.  It has been a huge success.
We are also  continuing  with our lunch program for very poor elderly widows.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

San Antonio Progress Report

In Guatemala, the school year ends in early November and starts up again in January. So this month we received our first Annual Report, showing us the progress made since the learning centre opened in February. And – WOW! – there’s been a lot of progress. Here are some highlights:

-       Attendance has increased from 324 visits per month in February to 590 in September

-       143 students are getting small-group learning assistance in maths, language and reading.

Of the 110 kids who turned in their school marks, the number getting passing grades has increased from 63 to 94. 
We’re creating readers. The number of kids who now come regularly to read has increased from 6 to 67, with numbers growing at a steady pace each month. 

The Casita is a busy place. As well as learning centre activities. 25 elderly women continue to arrive twice a week for lunch and activities; a small group of very disabled children receive language therapy each Wednesday morning, and two classes of adults are involved in literacy training twice a week. 

As the school year draws to a close, our committed young coordinator Yesenia (below) and her helper Lidia (one of our scholarship graduates) have already put together plans for a creative and ambitious vacation school. 

None of this could have happened without your support. ¡Gracias!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

San Antonio Summer Update

Happenings at the Casita

Every month we receive updates and photos from La Casita — the house and garden that now houses a learning centre for kids, a library, a twice-weekly lunch and social program for poor and elderly women, adult literacy courses, and more. The news is heartening. Teachers at the two schools are referring students in increasing numbers to the centre, and our coordinator, Yesenia, along with her part-time helper, Lidia, are engaging these kids in maths, reading and writing activities in interactive ways that are very different from the rote-based methods used in most Guatemalan classrooms. Plus lots of kids come just to read (many are members of the kids’ book club), and to use the computers for research. 

In July there were 643 student-visits to the centre — over 20 a day. 

Tuning Up San Antonio’s Stoves

Those of you who have been involved with the San Antonio project in the last few years will already know about the stove project. Mayan families have traditionally cooked over an open fire in their tiny, windowless homes — a practice leading to respiratory and eye diseases, burns, and deforestation. For over 10 years, our ICO group has worked hard to replace these open hearths with clean-burning, vented stoves that have improved health, and reduced deforestation because they use less wood. This year we decided that we’d achieved our goal in terms of stove installation — we’d managed to install almost 1,500 stoves. Now the problem is that many of these stoves are getting old and needing replacement parts in order to burn efficiently. 

So in June and July, Brenda Pérez— a past employee and currently one of our scholarship students in her 3rd year of university — visited homes, identified parts needing replacement, ordered the parts, and worked with a helper to get the parts properly installed. In all, 97 families received replacement parts and tune-ups, and we hope to continue this program into the future.

What a great feeling for all of us involved in various forms of support for San Antonio, to know that lives are being transformed through our partnership with these strong, motivated Mayans making a difference in their community.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Scarf Sale May 13, 2017


SATURDAY, MAY 13th, 11 - 3

1648 ROCKLAND (corner of Terrace) 

There is parking on Terrace Avenue, Algoa Place and Patly Place
Montgomery Avenue (3 blocks away)
- Enjoy the lovely Rockland home & garden of Carole Sabiston, renowned textile artist.
- Browse through scarves and shawls in new spring designs. Choose a hand-crafted huipile, handbag or hanging made from handwoven fabric.
- Your purchase helps a San Antonio weaver make a living, and supports projects in San Antonio, Guatemala — student scholarships, stoves, lunch for poor elderly widows, and a vibrant learning centre & library. 

Please pass this message on.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Scarves & Weavings Sale May 13th, 2017

Carole Sabiston, the renowned textile artist, is co-hosting — along with the ICO Guatemalan Scarves Team — a Scarf and Weavings Sale in her beautiful Rockland home and garden. We have done sales here before  and everyone has loved them, so we are delighted that Carole has generously offered to host one again. This year we are especially excited as we have recently returned from Guatemala and have some new designs and colours, specially chosen for Spring.

Many of you are already familiar with the work we’ve been doing in the Mayan village of San Antonio PalopóThe sale of these lovely scarves, shawls, huipiles, hand bags and hangings — all woven by hand in San Antonio — will help over 30 women weavers to make a living, and, as well, will support our projects.
We're holding the sale the day before Mothers Day, so it is a great opportunity to buy a meaningful Mothers Day gift or a gift for yourself. It is also the first day of the 2-day Annual Garden Tour for the Victoria Conservatory of Music, so you may want to buy a ticket for this wonderful event, and make an outing of it. What better way to enjoy yourselves post election, and contribute in a positive and fun way!

Please join us and pass this on to any interested friends.

SATURDAY, MAY 13th  11 TO 3
1648 ROCKLAND (corner of Terrace) - there is parking on Terrace Avenue, Algoa Place and Patly Place
Google Map Link

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ALL SMILES: Update from Linda

The Learning Centre is really taking off!   Candelaria and Yesenia are all smiles as they report to us that  there were 325 visits to the Centre by San Antonio kids in this first month of operation.

Wow!  We are thrilled too.

Yesenia, the young recently-hired teacher, is very busy providing learning assistance to groups of 12 children at a time, focussing on Math, Reading, Writing and Computer skills. Most families in the village do not have books or computers, so the Learning Centre provides a much needed, supportive learning environment. The teachers in the schools have embraced the Learning Centre and are organizing their classes to visit and make use of the resources. 

Many children are attending to do their homework and to enjoy the library of new books. Mary Lynch and Kathy Coster were able to purchase over 100 books in Mexico (where the prices are much better) and these are now on the shelves.

The Centre is such a hub of activity, especially in the afternoons, that consideration is being given to paying a senior high school student to assist Yesenia for a few hours a day, as managing all this enthusiasm is quite a challenge. 

You can see the excitement on Petrona's face as she harvests lettuce from the garden. Fresh produce is very expensive to buy in the market. The women helping in the garden share the produce while some of it is used towards the lunch program for the Ancianas (elderly women). 

The Ancianas are enjoying the use of new balls for their social time. They are encouraged to participate in games which challenge them mentally and physically.  Twenty-five isolated, poor elderly women attend regularly. They are so appreciative of this opportunity to eat a nourishing lunch and have some fun with friends. You can see it in their smiles.   

Thank you to all those who have supported this transformation of the Casita to a vibrant place of learning in San Antonio Palopo.