Monday, February 27, 2017


Eleven years ago , I was very moved by the plight of a  young man, Felipe, who has very severe Cerebral Palsy. He lived with his extended family, one of the very poorest families by the lake. At that time, his little shack overlooked the main road and the lake, and he could sit outside watching the world go by. His little house was destroyed 7 years ago by the landslides that hit San Antonio.  He now lives up the hill, away from his  family, in a tiny house with no windows and is left all  day in the dark - immobile and alone, except at night. I found this truly heart wrenching and decided that somehow I had to do something.

After several discussions, with a friend translating from Cakchiquel (the family's indigenous language) into Spanish, the family agreed they would like to have him back living down with them by the lake, if only he had a house. I am raising money to have a tiny house built for him, which his mother will share with him - she is greatly  relieved to have him back in the family. It will only be 8' x 9' but it will be made out of cement blocks, not mud, and it will have windows. His family will be able to lift him outside each day into the sunshine, where he can watch his family working and the people going by.

A  Canadian friend, Thomas (below), who has lived in the village for over 15 years, will oversee the work; we are are hoping to do it for under $2000, but $3000 may be more realistic. So far many generous friends have responded to my request for help and I have pledges for $825. If you would like to make a contribution, we can issue income tax receipts for all donations. If you send a cheque, make it out to Innovative Communities Foundation (put San Antonio Education - Felipe - on the memo line), and send it to me at 5178 Old West Saanich Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B1. 

To donate online go to, and click on the Donate button. Select Guatemala – San Antonio Education under the heading: ‘Select the fund your donation will support’.  And where there is a message box, just write one word - Felipe.

Please feel free to pass this on.

With heartfelt thanks,

Mary Lynch.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Learning Centre Update - Off to a Good Start

Just over 2 weeks into operation, and the Casita is buzzing with the sound of kids learning. Yesenia, the energetic young coordinator, has visited the schools, recruited kids, and set up a schedule. A sign advertising the Centro has been printed, and ready to be mounted. ‘Reforzamiento’ — learning assistance for groups of kids identified by their teachers as needing extra work, is starting this week. Meantime, the ancianas continue to meet for lunch and exercise twice a week (sometimes eating on the patio, when learning groups are in session). Brenda, our former employee, now coordinates these lunches as part of her volunteer service ‘payback’ for the university scholarship she is receiving. 

We’re all feeling pretty enthusiastic about the dynamic team that’s making all this happen.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The ‘Gran Inauguración’ - The Learning Centre is Launched

Friday February 3 was the big day — the official opening of the ‘Centro de Aprendizaje La Casita’. Prep started at 6:00 am, when Olivia and Petrona, two members of the faithful Colectiva — the group of women who have acted as a board of directors over the past few years — arrived to fire up the stove and start cooking the rice for the tamales.

By 1:45 taped marimba music was tinkling from the sound system, bowls of guacamole and chips graced the tables, and invited guests were arriving. Nothing could start until the mayor arrived, but hey, he was only half an hour late, so at 2:30 the speeches started. Guatemalans can be pretty long-winded, but this time the speeches all seemed just right — filled with hope and optimism for the future of the Learning Centre.
Vicente, one of the school principals, brought out his guitar and got us all singing along to a ditty about San Antonio. The Mayor made a formal presentation of 3 new desktop computers and a printer.

(Below): Candelaria, our supervisor, Yesenia, our new coordinator, and Kathy, with the newly-installed computers (3 of them from the Mayor’s office, one donated from Canada), in the background.
The librarian from nearby Panajachel presented us with 2 bags of cast-off books (a mixed blessing). Kathy, Susan and Mary all got to practice their Spanish in front of the gathered guests. The ribbon was cut, and the 50+ guests were served plates of tamales and cups of tea. A great success, and wonderful to see all these people from different sectors of this oft-conflicted community working together and expressing shared support for the new Learning Centre.

 ¡Adelantemos! !Forward we go!

Posted by Susan