Tomorrow morning, I will be boarding a plane with a fellow member of the North Raleigh Rotary Club to head to Guatemala for a tour of the Guatemala Literacy Project. As a veteran, I know what to expect and am looking forward to a new and unique experience. We fly out of RDU at 6:50 am and should land in Guatemala City around 11:30 am. I am looking forward to this trip as I will have an opportunity to visit and experience this capital city. Last year, we arrived late in the evening and did not get to see the city.
This year should be a very unique one as we will visiting new schools to induction them into the program. Terry and I are excited and can hardly wait to help these young people with their education.
Guatemala has one of the highest illiteracy rates amount Central America and one of the poorest. Approximately 75% of Guatemalans live below the poverty level and over 70% of the education dollars are spent in Guatemala City. This leaves very little for the rest of the country; most of which are Indigenous Mayans. To be a teacher in these schools, you must have a high school education. Unfortunately, most of these teachers have never used a textbook for their education. It is a vicious cycle and one that Cooperative for Education and Rotary hopes to correct in the future.
I am reminded of the parent who spoke of the illiteracy rate in his community. He said that about 75% of the adults I. His community could not read or write. He added that it is the goal of the parents today to “change” that trend for their children.
As Americans, it is hard to comprehend an educational system that generates those results. For them, it is a reality. Life for them means a meager existence with a majority of rural Guatemalans living on less than $1.50/day. This wage has to feed the entire family; not just one person. Education is the key to helping this amazing country to improve and reach their potential.
Over half of all good paying jobs in Guatemala require computer skills, but most Guatemalans have never seen a computer, let alone know how to work one. I think of myself as I have four computers. In Guatemala, this would represent 200+ Guatemalans. We are blessed in America and it imperative that we use our resources to help those less fortunate to improve their lives. Imagine the trading partners they would be if we could help them into the 21st Century.
Plan to follow my trip as I will blog as often as Internet access will allow. Also, consider what you can do to help these people. This is an amazing program and one that is getting results. It is not a “hand out”; but a “hand up”. The communities take a vested interest in this program as the students/parents rent the textbooks or computers. This way, the money collected will ensure that future generations will have the textbooks and computers to continue to advance these people. The Mayans have been relegated to a life of poverty by the elitist who run the country and without CoEd, there would be no hope for these wonderful people.
Stay tune as there will be many more postings from my trip. Also, if you would like to have a presentation for your group, I would be happy to speak to your organization.