Tag Archives: Rotary club of North Raleigh

Guatemala Literacy Tour…A week of Exploration!

This video is just a sampling of the experiences of President Steven Nelson and Past President Terry Hutchens as they traveled to Guatemala last week. Filmed by Steven Nelson, it is not a perfect video and not perfectly edited. His limited knowledge of film and editing shows in this video.

One of the great things that both Steven and Terry took from this week in Guatemala is the abject poverty experienced in the rural parts of this country. We visited the home of one of the scholarship students and ten people lived in a two room brick home with limited electricity and of course, none of the amenities that we enjoy in the U.S. such as comfortable seating, television or computers. It was a real eye-opening experience.

We also took away the importance of sponsoring some of these children. Cooperative for Education has tripled the size of the scholarship program, beginning with this school year. It went from one school with about 80-100 students to three schools with as many as 300 students. The cost is minimal at only $840/year, but it includes a development program that helps these young people develop into leaders in their communities and country, while guaranteeing them a scholarship for six years to get them through Diversificado (which is similar to high school). A sponsorship does not commit you to sponsoring the entire time.

One of the success stories included the 22-year old Ancemla, who benefited from a scholarship when she entered Basico (7th grade). Both of her parents had less than a Primary education (1st-6th grades), and did not understand the need to extend an education beyond Basico. With the scholarship, she was able to finish Diversificado and it resulted in her accessing a career at a call center support center for a Canadian company. At 22, she earns four times the money her father does and she has been paying for her younger siblings to obtain a high school education.

What an amazing story? You too can help sponsor a student or get several of your friends to support one together. CoEd and the GLP are doing amazing work in this extremely poor country.

First Day in Guatemala…What a memorable experience!!!

This young lady recently graduated due to the scholarship she had received...now she works for CoEd!

This young lady recently graduated due to the scholarship she had received…now she works for CoEd!

The tour this year was a little different from years past. We were the first group where the Cooperative for Education staff decided to visit a school on the first Saturday in town. Of course, the school was not in session and the students were not there, but we visited them for a much different purpose.

Cooperative for Education has expanded their student scholarship program. In the past, it was centered in one school with 100 students being guaranteed a six-year scholarship that would get them through primary and secondary school, which amounts to grades 7 through 12 in American terms. Last year, CoEd made the decision to expand this program dramatically by adding two new schools and 200 additional students. Today, we had the opportunity to visit one of the newly added schools and meet some of the 6th graders who will be scholarship students in 2015.

It was an absolutely amazing experience and the young people are excited about the prospects for their future due to these scholarships. Many, if not all, of these students would never be able to advance beyond a 6th grade education if not for a scholarship. Another aspect to this program that has changed is the focus on not only a scholarship, but a development focus on building future leaders in Guatemala. These students will not only be given an education, but will also learn skills to make them leaders in their communities.

Beberly is a wonderful young lady who wants to be a police woman...thanks to the scholarship she will receive next year, she can fulfill her goals.

Beberly is a wonderful young lady who wants to be a police woman…thanks to the scholarship she will receive next year, she can fulfill her goals.

At the school, Terry Hutchens and I were given the opportunity to meet Beberly. She is 12 years old and the second of five children. Her older sibling could not move beyond the 6th grade because her parents could not afford to pay for her education. Bebverly wants to be a police woman or at least a professional and thanks to the scholarship she will begin next year, she will have the opportunity to realize her dream. How many of your children have dreams for their future? In America, they have all the opportunities to reach their dreams and goals, but it is not the same in Guatemala.

In the home of a new scholarship student, you can see the sparse accommodations. Aren't the children adorable?

In the home of a new scholarship student, you can see the sparse accommodations. Aren’t the children adorable?

After speaking with her and sharing with her, we actually visited the home of a current scholarship girl. The home was grand for this community, but in fact, very desperate for Americans. She is one of nine children in her family with two older sisters who could not advance their education. Her father spoke to us that he and his wife realize the importance of an education, but they simply could not afford to send them to Primary school (6-9 grades).

This young lady wants to be a teacher so much that she has been teaching her younger siblings the school lessons she has learned to date. Her parents rent their home and a 1/4 acre of land to farm to support this growing family. Imagine eleven people living in a two-room brick dwelling with limited electricity. Without the scholarship she earned, she would not have an opportunity to move out of poverty while supporting her family.

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.

This was the first time any of the visiting Rotarians had an opportunity to visit the home of a student who is benefiting from the Guatemala Literacy Project. It was an eye-opening experience. The cost to support a young student is equivalent to $70/month or $840 for the entire year. This helps them purchase uniforms, supplies, pay their fees for the textbooks/computers and pay for the CoEd staff to work with them throughout their school years to help develop them as productive members of society in Guatemala.

Many Americans pay $70 a month for a dinner for two in a decent restaurant in the states. Your money will go so much further here in Guatemala and will change the life of a young person here.

At the school, we heard from a young lady who had recently graduated from Secondary school as a result of a scholarship. Going into the program, she wanted to become a teacher. After graduating, she developed a new dream…to work for CoEd in Guatemala to ensure other students like her could have an education and a future. She was just hired by CoEd to help them identify and recruit new students into the scholarship program. If not for this program, she would have to go to work for minimal pay and would probably be married to a farmer with no hope to get out of poverty.

Another focus of the scholarship program is a focus on drawing young ladies into a higher education. CoEd’s studies have shown that if the women are more educated, they are more likely to educate their children. It is a substantive program that takes a little longer to reach a certain level of success, but one that develops “true” success in the long-term.

Thanks to the generosity of a sponsor, this young lady now has a scholarship to pay for her Primary and Secondary education (7-12 grades). Her life will be changed forever!!!

Thanks to the generosity of a sponsor, this young lady now has a scholarship to pay for her Primary and Secondary education (7-12 grades). Her life will be changed forever!!!

My wife and I are currently supporting a young man named Ricardo, who is in his final year of Primary school this year. I will see him again next Saturday and cannot wait to see him and hear of his progress. When I first met him two years ago, he wanted to learn computers. His goals may have changed as is customary for young people, but either way, we are supporting him and his efforts. Through this scholarship, he has the opportunity for a brighter future. It is said that half of the top paying jobs in Guatemala require computer skills. Ricardo can use these new skills to help support his future family and his current one. How else can your money do more good?

Terry Hutchens, a past president of this club, told me today that the most impressive thing for him with this program is the passion of the staff to make a difference in this country. If you have been following this blog, you know it is a beautiful country, but what makes it more beautiful is the people. Our tour guide yesterday in Guatemala City with limited education spoke passionately about his country and learning more about its history and its future. He was an older gentleman who is still passionate about reading and learning more. It is symbolic of the people of Guatemala.

Speaking engagement to the Wendell Rotary Club

Guatamala Literacy Project

On Tuesday, I had the honor and privilege to speak to the Wendell Rotary Club concerning the Guatemala Literacy Project and my trip to Guatemala in February of this year. The members were very welcoming and warm as they opened up their meeting to my presentation.

There was several great questions about the program to include the tours. I want to thank Johnny Whitfield personally for having scheduling me to speak to his club. I think they are doing a great service to Wendell and hope they find it important to reach out to the Guatemala Literacy Project and support it in any way they can.

Thanks again and I look forward to having Johnny speak to our club in September about the Youth Exchange 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 Steven@BackNineHomes.com.

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 Steven@BackNineHomes.com.