Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What's it like here, anyway!

Our little band of volunteers are kept super busy with an amazing variety of tasks.  Walking around this village with Kathy, we are stopped almost every 5 minutes by someone who welcomes us, or  asks for help with a scholarship for one of their children, or wants to chat about the new Learning Centre at the Casita. 

We have been in numerous meetings, and when having breakfast or dinner at the small hotel, often folks show up and ask if they can talk to us.  Communication in the village is still mostly face to face .  

Then there are moments when it is quiet, and you look out at the stunning beauty of the lake rimmed with volcanoes .  

Our days are filled with contrast.


Sunday, January 29, 2017


Hiring Committee meeting
It seemed like such a good idea at the start: invite representatives from all the various sectors of San Antonio, involve them in planning the Learning Centre and hiring the coordinator, make this project their own. And we had a great coordinator – Candelaria, who has years of experience in bringing people together, starting up learning centres. What we didn't reckon with was the fractious, cantankerous nature of San Antonio's men – and pretty-well all of these participants were men.

At our first meeting with Candelaria, she announced that she was almost ready to quit. She had hoped to have a coordinator hired before we arrived, but was stopped in her tracks by a group of the COCODE (development council) who insisted that she hire someone from San Antonio, even if there was no one really qualified. Our role from this point on was to combine persuasive one-on-one talks with stern speeches (a challenge to our Spanish), and also to reduce the participation of the COCODE to one, very reasonable, representative. 

In the end we had 4 candidates: 2 from 'outside', one from San Antonio, and one from a nearby village. The process was rigorous and streamlined. We all went through the applications; the 4 applicants (all women) arrived and wrote a written test, and then we interviewed each of them in turn, following a set of questions prepared by Candelaria. It boiled down to 2 candidates: Veronica from San Antonio who had a great personality but a background in social work rather than teaching; and Yesenia from the nearby village, with teaching qualifications, a lovely personality, but not much spoken Kaqchikel, the Mayan language. To our surprise, after all the preceding battles, not only did everyone on the selection team get along, but they unanimously chose Yesenia.

On Thursday we met with Yesenia and Candelaria, and once more we were impressed by Candelaria's skill and experience. She plans a robust training program for Yesenia, to help build skills in teaching through games and puppets, in motivating reading, in participatory learning techniques. And Yesenia, although only 24, seems quick, poised and unflappable. We feel our little 'Centro de Aprendizaje' is in good hands indeed.

La Colectiva

These 4 women have been loyal, dedicated volunteers at the Casita for over 2 years.  It is unusual for poor women in San Antonio Palopo to contribute to their community in this way and, despite many challenges, they have shown a real commitment to the programs offered at the Casita.  We invited them to a lunch and thanked them for their service to the community. We hope they will continue as "Friends of La Casita" where their knowledge of the programs and the village can be a source of support to the new Coordinator of the Learning Centre.  

Muchas Gracias Ana Olivia, Manuela, Martina, and Petrona.  

Linda Woodward Stanton

Friday, January 20, 2017

Message from Linda on her time with the Ancianas

It was wonderful to spend time with these sweet elderly women at the Casita on Wednesday.  It is not easy for them to walk down the steep village pathways but it is clear they are very happy to meet with friends and enjoy a generous hot lunch of chicken, rice, salad and tortillas.

The government of Guatemala is now providing a young man named Elder, to engage these often very isolated women in some social and creative activities.  Elder clearly loves the Ancianas and it was so heartwarming to see their smiles today.  Twenty-five elderly women are given a hot lunch twice a week, thanks to the  generous support of our donors.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Off to Guatemala - 2017

On Our Way (well, almost!)
Three of our San Antonio team — Mary, Kathy and Susan — got together today to send out thank you cards to our amazing, generous donors, and to sort out who was going to take what to San Antonio. We leave on Saturday (January 14), with over 50 pounds of books, 4 computers (2 of them donated), library and office supplies … etc. Quite a challenge squeezing everything into our luggage. 

In less than a week we’ll be in San Antonio. Check in for updates!