Escuelita de Preschool David LaMotte
Tzanchaj, Atítlan, Guatemala
Status: Ongoing. School opened in new building January 2006.
Funds provided: Over $9000 ($2500 for original construction, many additions since then, $1300 annually for teacher’s salary, plus funds for cook, ongoing building and school supplies).
The village of Tzanchaj is up the road from Santiago, Atitlan, and right next to Panabaj, a village that was buried by mudslides in the terrible flooding in the fall of 2005. When I first visited, the preschool was meeting in a rented room with fourteen children and their small desks crammed into the space. There were many other students in the village who would like to have been in the preschool as well, but there was no room.
Nino Tecun had the vision to build a larger school building to accommodate the needs of the village and had a bit of land where the school could be built, and PEG provided the funds to build it. The school opened in January 2006 and has been operating since then. In the early days of the school, there were slightly over 30 students. Now there are approximately 60.
The school also provides healthy school lunches, which are significant on several levels. This is significant for students who are not always getting adequate nutrition at home. Lunch is also a significant motivator for parents to send their children to school rather than working, in a culture where child labor is the norm rather than the exception.
Though the school is officially named after PEG founder David LaMotte, it is known locally as “Nino’s school.” It is one of several schools that participate in a Traveling Book Box program, also supported by PEG, which operates from the Biblioteca Puerta Abierta (Open Door Library) in nearby Santiago, Atítlan. Teachers at this school and others in the area also recently benefitted from another project supported by PEG, a teacher training seminar on classroom management and encouraging critical thought.