Most international development organizations agree that education is the best step toward breaking the cycle of poverty and poor health in countries like Guatemala.
Rural, indigenous children are often forced to drop out of school to help their family earn income or simply because the family cannot afford school supplies, uniforms or transportation. To pursue an education past the 6th grade, children from remote villages must move to larger towns yet the necessary living and travel expenses are impossible for most families to afford.
In 2008, Refuge International began funding two full-time teachers in Sarstún, and school enrollment more than tripled. Since then, we have built a second school, and it has been exciting to see the growing commitment local residents have made to educating the children of this rural area.
How You Can Help
- Underwrite a teacher ($2,500 annual salary)
- Provide school supplies or Spanish books
- Improve school facilities
- Purchase a school desk ($50)
- Sponsor an educational field trip ($500)
- Contribute to provide healthy meals for students
Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in Latin America with only 3 out of 10 children continuing past the 6th grade. (USAID)
Indigenous girls are often the most disadvantaged group as limited schooling, early marriage and frequent childbearing perpetuate the cycle of chronic poverty. (Global Education Fund)
supporters who are making a difference
When Connelly Cowen celebrated her 8th birthday in 2012, rather than asking for presents for herself, she opted to collect school supplies for children in Guatemala. She delivered several large boxes to Refuge International that included over 1,000 pencils and dozens of packages of paper, crayons, pens, spiral notebooks and plastic school supply boxes. Every year since, Connelly’s efforts have grown. Her donation items have also included toothbrushes and toothpaste, school desks, backpacks and she even raised enough money to put in a water well. We couldn’t be prouder of this young philanthropist!
“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela
First United Methodist Church
For several years, young members of this church in Longview, Texas have collected school supplies and backpacks for children in Sarstun, Guatemala. Thanks to their efforts, more than 90 backpacks have been distributed to some very excited little ones in the remote Guatemalan village.
This group of students from Washington collected supplies and funds to help the school children in Sarstún. This is how they tell their story:
“Derek and I are two juniors who have always received the best education that our district has been able to provide us. Growing up, we’ve come to realize that not all children have the same opportunities that we have had. We decided to start an organization, with some assistance from a local organization called Youth Venture, called American Youth For Equal Educational Opportunities (AYFEEO) that aims to provide less fortunate children with educational materials so that they may learn and succeed in school. A friend mentioned Refuge International and we thought that it was absurd that children don’t have the chance to get at least a middle school education. To help out your cause, we spent two days in a local mall collecting donations and raising awareness about the education situation in Sarstun, Guatemala. In all, we raised over $750 and countless supplies that are currently en route to you!”
The following is a copy of the message that the American Youth for Equal Educational Opportunities sent with the supplies:
To the Children of Sarstún:
“In America we are very privileged to have a well-supported education system. Many of us, however, take this system for granted and don’t realize how amazing an opportunity it is to receive a quality education. We hope that, with these supplies, we will be able to help you receive quality educations as well.
We are very hopeful for your futures and the future of Guatemala. We hope that you take advantage of this opportunity to learn and to grow in life. We know that at times school may seem just like work but it is very important to learn so that you may grow up to be successful. We hope you not only use these supplies to learn and grow to the best of your potential but also that you learn how to help others and that giving back is just as important as receiving.
We wish you the very best of luck for your future and hope that your educations will be filled with excitement and wonder, just as ours are. We sincerely hope that these supplies, as meager as they are, will help improve the quality of your educations and your lives. Know that there are those throughout the world—particularly Refuge International—who truly care about your futures and educations.
American Youth for Equal Educational Opportunities
On behalf of the people of Guatemala that we so proudly serve, we’d like to say thank you to all of Refuge International’s dedicated supporters!