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The Trip is at an end…What memories!

A view from my room in Guatemala City. The city is large like many metropolitan cities, but it still has some character in certain parts.

A view from my room in Guatemala City. The city is large like many metropolitan cities, but it still has some character in certain parts.

This is the third trip I have made to Guatemala on behalf of the Rotary Club of North Raleigh and after a couple of trips here, you think you have seen everything and done everything. But in essence, each trip is unique and impressive in its own rights. This trip was no different.

Due to an exciting week and some limited Internet, I did not blog as much as I would have liked, but I hope you will take this post and enjoy its content. I did spend most of the early week working on a video that I had promised each of you, but the lack of high-speed Wi-Fi limited my ability to post it. I will try again before I leave and if not successful, will post it when I return.

All of the Rotarians in my group posed with the family. The mother is not present since she just gave birth to their 9th child three days ago.

All of the Rotarians in my group posed with the family. The mother is not present since she just gave birth to their 9th child three days ago.

Back to the business at hand, the week was amazing with many great opportunities. As you already know, it started with a visit to a newly established scholarship school where I met Bebeverly. She was adorable and so smart. I was able to get her to cheer for UNC in front of the Dukie, Terry Hutchens. He didn’t like it, but who cares…he’s a Dukie. After our visit with her, we went into the home of a first year scholarship student to see how she lives. It is amazing these people can be so happy and gregarious living in such conditions. The father was very happy that his young Esmerelda would have the opportunity her two older sisters did not have…an education beyond the 6th grade.

On Sunday, we once again traveled across Lake Atitlan to Santiago and spent a very nice day there that was capped with lunch at one of the best hotel/restaurants in the city. Returning to Panajachel, many of us enjoyed the Super Bowl in the lounge, though the Colorado contingent didn’t have as good of a time.

We were always welcomed into each school with a high level of energy and excitement.

We were always welcomed into each school with a high level of energy and excitement.

Monday started the true fun as we visited our first schools to inaugurate into the Textbook Project. These schools were amazing and the young people were overwhelmed that Rotarians would travel from around the world to help them get a better education. I won’t go into each school individually that we visited as this would not benefit you much, but I will outline some of the highlights.

On this trip, there were 6 new school inducted into the textbook project and 5 other schools were re-inaugurated, meaning they have purchased the second set of textbooks. We inaugurated one new computer center and a couple of new CORP programs. We experienced many great performances by students throughout the week. My favorite was the one where they demonstrated the wooing of a young lady. The performers were so convincing that it brought the story to life and climaxed when the young man hoisted her over his shoulder and carried her away.

President Marco Sheel talks about the school and how he grew up ten minutes from it. He is pleased that the GLP has selected this school for textbooks.

President Marco Sheel talks about the school and how he grew up ten minutes from it. He is pleased that the GLP has selected this school for textbooks.

One of the more impressive moments of the trip for me was the appearance of the Xela Rotary Club president at two of the schools on Wednesday. In my previous two trips here, the president of the host club has never attended any of the inaugurations. It was good to see him there and speak with him about how he is trying to change the culture of his club to include newer and younger members. As the president of my club, I can understand the challenges he faces, but he has even more than I do.

That evening we had dinner at a Rotarian’s house and again, the president of this club was at the house. We spoke more about the position and where our clubs stood for the year. He told me about a new Rotary club that is starting in Xela that is 5 members away from becoming an official club. What’s more impressive is this new club currently has half women and half men when his own club doesn’t allow women. I personally wish him and this new club well as they try to get five more members to qualify for their charter.

Rotarian Glenn Chamberlain plays with the youth and shows his youthfulness. This is what makes it enjoyable to visit the CORP schools and spend time with the very young.

Rotarian Glenn Chamberlain plays with the youth and shows his youthfulness. This is what makes it enjoyable to visit the CORP schools and spend time with the very young.

On Friday morning, we visited a Culture of Reading Program (CORP) school and it again was an amazing experience. The CoEd staff recognized a local businessman and his employees who recently started supporting the Guatemala Literacy Project (GLP). It is like this program is moving full-circle as it started with Rotary clubs in North America and expanded to the Grand Cayman Island club and now, we have businesses in Guatemala who are supporting this effort. It is extremely important for the local business community to support this project and to understand the value of educating the youth of this beautiful country.

Terry Hutchens carries books in for the last school. This is one aspect of the tour, we are "Free" labor!

Terry Hutchens carries books in for the last school. This is one aspect of the tour, we are “Free” labor!

On Friday afternoon, we visited our last school of this tour to inaugurate a new school into the textbook project. It was an amazing experience and one that makes me wonder if I would ever want to be a celebrity and have to sign autographs. The children approached us to write our names in their notebooks and I must have written my name at least sixty times. We also danced with them and they gave us “Thank you” notes for the books and our coming to their school.

As the athlete I am (at least in my mind) I had a couple of opportunities to play sports with the youth throughout the week. On Wednesday, I played soccer with some of the young boys in this school. Unfortunately, I tend to forget my age when I play sports with young people. I took two spills on the cement field and skinned my knee, but I did score two goals as we won the match. On Friday afternoon, I played basketball, but kept myself more under control and didn’t take a spill, but scored several baskets for my team. In this match, we played against some of the mothers from this school, so it was still a little embarrassing that they did so well against us.

As I write this entry, I am sitting here at the hotel in Antigua, Guatemala, enjoying  the light breeze and smoking a nice Gurka cigar, while nursing a scotch. Reflecting on the week, it makes me proud the my club has been involved with this project since its inception and the progress they have made with the number of schools.

All of the Rotarians in my group posed with the family. The mother is not present since she just gave birth to their 9th child three days ago.

All of the Rotarians in my group posed with the family. The mother is not present since she just gave birth to their 9th child three days ago.

Hearing the successes of the programs, I am convinced it is working and will be a catalyst to turn this nation around and make it a beacon in the Western Hemisphere. Though having a very troubling recent history, the people have not given up and are working to make a better life for their children, communities and nation.


First Day in Guatemala

We arrived in Guatemala City on Friday morning with little fanfare and no luggage. We determined that our luggage wanted to spend a few hours on South Beach, getting a tan. It finally arrived once we returned from a tour of the city where we experienced the Parque Minerva, Catedral Metropolitana and Plaza Mayor de la Constitucion. It was a wonderful little trip.

Unfortunately, we also passed one of the more dangerous parts of town and were amazed to the construction of this area. Homes built into the side of a mountain, on top of each other. It was a very inhumane way to live. We were told that it is one area we should not enter as it was very dangerous, especially to tourist.


Monument to Francisco Vela, Engineer

Monument that shows how Francisco Vela surveyed Guatemala in the early 1900s and used to build the Parque Minerva-Mapa en Relieve. This park has the entire geography of Guatemala.

Built in 1904, this map shows the geographical features of Guatemala. This is only a portion of the map and shows many of the areas we will be visiting during this trip.

The condition of this map was not good as it is exposed to the weather, but it is an overwhelming display of the country of Guatemala. I had never seen anything like this in my life.

After leaving the park, we traveled back to Zone 1, which is the downtown area of Guatemala City and experienced the Catedral Metropolitana and the Plaza Mayor de la Constitucion, across the street from the cathedral. This cathedral was started in 1776 and finished in 1868. It has many artifacts that are much older as it was furnished with items that were removed from a cathedral in Antigua when the capital was moved to Guatemala City.

Small portion of this monolithic structure

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a more complete picture of this cathedral, but I was standing too near it and could not cross the street to get a better shot. The interior of this cathedral is breathtaking. If you ever visit Guatemala City, you need to be sure to visit.

Across the street is the Plaza Mayor de la Constitution. We did not have an opportunity to cross the street to walk through the square, but it is a massive square with a fountain in the middle.

Glorious fountain in the main square in Guatemala City


On Saturday morning, we loaded into our buses and traveled on the Pan American Highway. After several hours, we arrived in Panajachel, which is on Lake Attilan. This lake has been described as the most beautiful lake in the world. To see this place, you would also agree. We spent the day visiting the city. We also had a opening presentation for those who have never visited Guatemala and the Guatemala Literacy Project (GLP).

Tomorrow, we will travel across the lake to visit Santiago. There will be more pictures added tomorrow from the trip.

To see the beauty of this country, one wonders why they were unable to be more successful and prosperous. This project hopes to aid this country out of poverty through education. As the most illiterate nation in the Western Hemisphere, there is much work ahead for this nation and the people. The people are hopeful and are working towards bettering themselves and their nation. I feel honored to participate in this little way.

After the presentation this evening, my traveling partner informed me that we need to visit every club in our district to encourage them to participate with this project. After all they have done, they have still only reached 10% of all rural schools.


Anticipation mounts for this year’s trip

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.

Updates on Guatemala Literacy Project

Guatemala Literacy Project

I am happy to announce that I will be traveling back to Guatemala next February and am looking forward to seeing some of the friends from last year while visiting with more of the wonderful people of Guatemala. I have my plan tickets and am getting things in order for the trip.

On a more local note, if you wanted to learn more about this project, I will be giving a presentation to the Cary-McGregor Rotary Club next month. Ed Cody and I are going to be visiting with them and giving them a personal account of our experiences there. It has been a life-changing experience for me and I enjoy talking about it. Please contact me if you want to attend this meeting or wish to have me speak to your club. I am more than happy to share my experiences.

As we get closer to our trip, I will continue to update this blog, so please keep reading. If you are interested in traveling to Guatemala, please contact Guatemala Literacy Project to learn more about it and future tours. They typically organize 4 tours a year with one being Rotarians and spouses only. The available slots fill up quickly, so I would encourage you to check it out today.

The Presentation Went well…but could have been better!

President Boyd Bennett and myself presented to our Rotary Club today about our Guatemala trip last month. The presentation went well and many questions and comments were made concerning the project and presentation. However, it could have been better. If you were there, you know that the projector did not work for us. So, the PowerPoint presentation that I had prepared for today was not seen by many people as only those close could see my computer screen.

I decided to upload the PowerPoint presentation to this blog, so if you could not see it, you will have an opportunity to view it. The trip was amazing to say the least and one that I would definitely wish to do again in the near future. Please click the link to view the presentation.

Guatemala Literacy Project Tour

This trip gets better and better

Awaiting the ceremony, a young girl reflects on the events of the day!

I know I have said this several times, but each day seems to be a greater and more rewarding experience. Today, we visited two great schools and again, they could not be more different. One school was very poor with nearly 100% indigenous people where the other was a little better off with a more diverse community. The second school actually had students with blond hair and

many children with freckles, which the indigenous Mayan people do not have. The first community took much time and the worst dirt roads of the trip to arrive where the other had very smooth paved roads. Again, both consisted of dangerous curves and mountain highs and lows.

The first school was a textbook inauguration at La Felicidad School in Las Delicias. It was a bumpy ride there, but well worth it once we arrived. We arrived a little early for the ceremony, so we had an opportunity to interact with the children prior to the beginning of the festivities. Some of the participants pulled out their Polaroid cameras and others brought out their stickers. The children were engrossed with both and it became a challenge to pull away and settle down for the program.

The father gave a moving speech where he revealed a 90% illiteracy rate in the community.

Once the program started, a father came up to the stage to give a speech. I must admit it was a moving speech and I had to fight back tears. He went on to say that we were the first visitors from outside Guatemala. He was moving when he admitted that this community suffered with 90% illiteracy. He went on to say that the parents and teachers have made a goal to reverse this trend. He felt that the only way for this community to move forward was education.

This young girl was so adorable I could not resist a photo.

After the ceremony, we had an opportunity to interact with the children. A moving photo opportunity was when a young girl was given a textbook to hold. She was absolutely adorable. Outside, I got involved with shooting basketballs until I was called away due to my Frisbee skills. It became a bit raucous as the children were very enthusiastic as many had never seen a Frisbee. It did end when the Frisbee was thrown on top of a building as they climbed the stairs to retrieve it. And when it was thrown accidentally on the taller building, some of the boys made a makeshift bridge from one building to the next so they could retrieve the Frisbee. One touching moment for me was when a young girl offered me a couple of her chips. You would think that with their limited resources they would not be as willing to share, but it is quite the opposite.

The road to the second school was tough as we cut through rough terrain to arrive at the next school. However, a very interesting thing occurred on the way. We stopped at the park in San Lorenzo. It was a very nice park considering the area, but it was locked and we were forced to eat outside the park. As we were finishing up with our boxed lunch, the Public Relations representative from the town of San Lorenzo approached us and thanked us for having lunch in their town and wanted to interview the group. Joe, one of the founding members of CoEd gave the interview on our behalf as he is fluent in Spanish, and told us afterwards that this has never happened on one of their tours. They were so appreciative and we did not buy anything in their town. I must watch for San Lorenzo and see if I am a part of their next promotional video.

A wonderful view of the tallest volcanic mountain in Guatemala from the Serchil Cooperative School!

During the ceremony, the principle gave a moving speech about the opportunity that the students have been given and even the superintendent of Schools for this District was present and gave a few words of thanks for this new program for this school. This community, as with all so far, was very welcoming and one lady was very concerned about one of the participants from Canada as she thought she was too cold. We almost had to pull her away from this kind older lady. Nonetheless, it was heart-warming to see them exchange hugs as they left.

I was invited to dance with the young lady on the far left. She was very patient with me!

My job at this school was to receive the Thank You notes from the students. The logistics did not completely work out, but I did accept the letter written by one of the students who read her letter. It was a very moving letter about the great opportunity they were given and how appreciative they were that people from another part of the world cared about their education. I must admit, I don’t think this could ever get old.

Upon departing the school and heading back to the hotel, we later went for a group dinner. It was a unique dinner as I was sitting with 2 Guatemalan staff members and 2 U.S. staff members. The two Guatemalan men could not speak much English, but we were able to carry out a very entertaining conversation fraught with much humor. I showed them many photos from home and my various vacations. It was a wonderful dinner and a great example that this trip is not just about helping the students, which that is the main goal, but it is also about reaching out to other Rotarians and residents of other countries to build friendships. In my business, I hear all the time from trainers that the key to building your business is to build strong relationships. This goes beyond business as the key to enjoying life and making a difference in the world is to build strong relationships. We may never see each other again, but that chance encounter over dinner has made a lasting impression on me and I would hope the same would be said for them. I do plan to come again so hopefully, they will still be with CoEd and I can continue this budding friendship, but even if I never came back, that dinner was impactful for me.

Another Day, Another Great Experience

The students at Potrerillos School eagerly await for the begining of the inaugration ceremony.

I keep thinking, mistakenly, that each new day here visiting these schools, will at some point become ordinary and nothing unusual. However, the second day has seen even better experiences than the day before it. Today, we visited two schools that could not be more different. One was a very rural town in the mountains and the other was an urban area. One had very poor facilities and the other had very nice facilities, at least to the standards here. We, back in the states, would have considered both schools to be simply varying degrees of poor conditions.

The morning started with a re-orgainzation of the buses as the bus we were on yesterday that broke down was being attended to today. Hopefully, it is back in service tomorrow. However, we started off early in the morning. The interesting thing this morning was getting out of the parking lot for the hotel. As we began our procession, as we always travel with multiple vehicles for safety, we were met with a different procession of 3 dump trucks that forced us to back up and let the larger vehicles pass. Then, we began down the hill to the road just to have a Coke truck block us. It was worked out and we were able to get on the road without loosing too much time. CoEd does such a great job with the planning and the schedule is attempted to be followed. Of course, there are always unforeseen circumstances, i.e.traffic, that impacts our planned schedule.

Arriving at the first school was a challenge in itself. To understand how isolated these communities are, you have to visit one of these schools. We drove up steep hills and mountains, while the next moment, we were bounced around the bus as the dirt road we were traveled for good portion of the trip was very hectic with roads that met the edge of the mountain in some points and inclines and curves that could make your stomach do cartwheels. It really is something you have to experience. The rural areas in many third world nations maybe similar. But to experience it first hand and to see the way they live, breaks your heart in one way and makes you really appreciate what you have. It is easier to say it, but until you actually experience it, you can not truly understand their way of life. And the amazing thing is that they are happy. They are not depressed, angry, but happy with life.

The first school that we visited on Tuesday was Potrerillos School. One of the staff members warned us that we most likely would not see many fathers at the school as many of the men in this town have found their way to the U.S. for jobs and are sending money back home. It cannot be a great way to live, but the money that is sent back allows their families to live in nicer homes than they would have without this money from the U.S. as the money goes much farther here.

I am presenting a textbook to a lovely 9th grader. Isn't she adorable?

The students and family were very excited to have us there and even more excited to have the new textbooks. A proud and happy father spoke about how pleased he and his community were that we were there to help with their children’s education. The Vice-Mayor stated that this was the first time any organization came to their town to help them.  During the ceremony, the students honored us with a ceremonial dance that depicts their heritage. Later, one of the Guatemalan staff members told our bus that she has never seen that dance before as it is only brought out for honored guest and special occasions.

After the ceremonies, we went outside and enjoyed a very enthusiastic frisbee game. I just had to show them all of my many styles of throws, and many of them tried to emulate with varying degrees of success. Fitting for a round of Frisbee, a young boy managed to throw it onto the roof of one of the buildings just as it was time for us to load up and leave for the next school.

At the next school in Almolonga, which is just outside of Xela, it has a more urban feel. According to a staff member, this community has recently came upon good times through farming and exporting many of their crops abroad. Due to this new market they have developed, the community was better off than most that we had visited. What I found impressive was the way they treated us and the fact that the auditorium was full of parents, there to take part in their child’s education. As you already know, this program is not free, but to see so many parents come out made me reflect on how many parents in the U.S. take that much interest in their child’s education. As well as reminded me that the children who perform the best and typically go to college are those who have parental involvement throughout their education. It makes me think that these young children have a chance at a bright future.

Students perform a ceremonial dance in our honor.

Once again, the students honored us with a few performances and each one made a point to bow to us before exiting. We were seated on the stage and treated very well. It just shows how appreciative they are for our involvement. It seems that I cannot say it enough.

After the ceremony, Boyd was virtually attacked again with his stickers. The boys wanted the dog and construction equipment stickers while the girls wanted the cats and stars. I got involved in a rousing soccer match that saw me out of breath in no time. I must admit, I still had a strong kick, but my accuracy and technic left much to be desired.

From there, we returned to San Marco and our hotel without incident. It was a wonderful day and I can only imagine how tomorrow will be. I can hardly wait.

A Day of Excitement, Joy and Challenges

Young children at the Paquisis Primary School. They were excited to see us!

A wonderful day was had by all as we visited our first school today. In the morning, we visited the Paquisis Primary School for the inauguration of their Culture of Reading Program (CORP). This school, who has been a part of the textbook project for some time, had just gotten several of their teachers certified for the CORP and did some demonstrations for us. Following an amazing ceremony where a plaque was presented as the Evanston, WY Rotary club sponsored their new CORP program. After a wonderful ceremony, we separated into the many classes where we were given a first hand experience as to how the CORP program works to increase reading and comprehension by the students.

Demonstrating the book that was read by their teacher. The chicks are cold and the mother is warming them.

In the classes, we watched the demonstration, then went to the yard to see the dramatization of the story. The CORP program is designed for the teacher to read the book with interaction from the students, The book is turned so the children can see it and the pictures. After reading it, some or all of the students are asked to dramatize the book to better understand. Afterward, they work to recreate the book with their own interpretations. It is an amazing way to learn and comprehend.

The children really enjoyed receiving their new school supplies. They have so little that they appreciate everything they get.

After the class demonstration, Boyd and I were assigned to hand out school supplies to the class. Then we went back to the main school yard where we had a few moments to interact with the children. Boyd became very popular with his stickers and barely made it our alive. Just kidding, the children were very respectful, but very excited to receive a sticker.

Instead of just shipping these books, CoEd hand delivers them with the assistance of Rotarians fron North America and the Grand Cayman Islands.

The day with this school was very special as the clubs representatives from the Grand Cayman Islands were honored for their donation of restrooms. Yes, this school did not have any facilities prior to the clubs in the Cayman Islands donation. Additionally, Glenn and Carol Chamberlain were honored for sponsoring this new school. Their dedication to this program over the years has been very beneficial to this overall project. Glenn has previously been on 19 Guatemalan tours for Rotary and CoEd. His committment to this program is amazing.

After leaving this school, we began the long trek through the mountainous roads to San Marcos and the Hotel Miralvalle. Unfortunately, the challenge in the title happened as the brakes on our bus began to fail and the driver pulled over as he was not confident in his ability to navigate the curves with the current brake systems. This is a testament to this organization and their focus on safety first as we pulled over, and waited, along with our security team, until one of the other buses could unload and then return for us.

This blog is going out later than I would have liked since we arrived at the hotel much later than expected. However, I have pushed forward to share and have started to upload new photos to Facebook, but may not finish as we have an early day tomorrow.

Getting Adjusted to Guatemala

Posing in front of 2 volcanos and Lake Attilan.

This has been a very busy day for our group as we had to travel from Guatemala City to the mountains. We have settled in Panajachel, which is on Lake Attilan. This is a very peaceful and tranquil setting looking out across the water.

Relaxing by the pool on a pleasant afternoon!

We had a few members of our party who did not make it in time and are hoping to arrive  today due to the weather in Houston. It is a good thing we decided to fly through Miami, or we could have been caught in the same weather delays.

We are staying at  the Porto Hotel del Lago, which is a very serene hotel that overlooks the water. I have been told by one of the staff members, that they are buttering us up with relaxing days as Monday, we will start working. We can hardly wait.

Guatemala is a very beautiful country with large mountains and natural volcanos, many of which are considered active even though they have not erupted in about 100 years.

Boyd is diligent with packing school supplies to be delivered this week to students.

This evening, we put some packs together for the children we will be seeing this coming week. So far, it has been an amazing experience and is bound to be even better as we meet the students that are benefiting from this great program.

Excitement Grows as my Trip to Guatemala Nears!

My excitement is rising as my trip to Guatemala nears in less than three weeks. I am looking forward to this experience as I never thought I would be participating in any type of mission to a third-world nation. Due to my association with the Rotary Club of North Raleigh and Rotary International, I will soon have that opportunity.

As children, we learn in school of Central America and the many countries, but as adults, many cannot even name the countries that make up this area of the world. As an U.S. Citizen, we do not often think of those suffering in less developed nations. We think of poverty as households making in the tens of thousands in income, but in many of these countries, poverty is making less than $1 a day. These people do not think of vacations and days off work as they cannot afford to take a single day off as it would mean they would not eat that day. This is the environment where I will be heading soon!

Some amazing statistics concerning Guatemala include a high infant mortality rate of 29 per 1000 births compared to only 7 for the U.S. 12% of the population earn less than $1.25 per day and the illiteracy rate in the rural areas is 75% compared to less than 5% in the U.S.

The Guatemala Literacy Project organized by Rotary Clubs in North America is trying to change this issue. Since 1996, we have provided 128,600 textbooks in 191 communities and established 49 computer centers that benefit more than 16,000 students. We have established 20 Culture of Reading Programs (CORP) and 49 libraries.

I am honored and privilege to personally participate in this project as a Rotarian and look forward to a rewarding experience. I plan to communicate to those interested via this blog as Internet capabilities allow. Sign up for the RSS feed to get updates on the trip and to see pictures that I will be sharing along the way.

Some ways you can participate are with your prayers for a safe trip as it is a dangerous country. Also, donations can be made to Cooperatives for Education as they will use the money for much needed school supplies.

Thanks for your interest in this project and please let me know if you have any questions. I can be contacted at