Escuelita Comunitaria David LaMotte
Tzanchaj, Atítlan, Guatemala
Status: Ongoing. The Escuelita opened in new schoolhouse, built by PEG, in January 2006. In 2018, PEG raised funds to purchase new property nearby where the school could move and expand. Currently, in 2019, PEG is working with Rotary International on a grant that would fund the building of a new school.
Funds provided: Over $50,000 ($2,500 for original construction, many additions since then, $25,000 to purchase the new property, $18,000 annually for teachers’ salaries, a cook’s salary, music and computer classes, and 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 teachers and parents have a dream that the school will one day grow to serve kids through sixth grade. This dream is a possibility on the new land that has been purchased, but will depend on growing funding support to provide salaries for new teachers.
The school also provides healthy snacks at school, which are significant on several levels. This is significant for students who are not always getting adequate nutrition at home. Food 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.
Teachers at this school have all been trained on classroom management and encouraging critical thought through a program PEG funded with a nearby library/school/resource center called Puerta Abierta.