Breaking the cycle for Guatemalan children
Organized by: Juliana Sandford
Most of us take our education for granted.
This summer, I worked with a service group at a small urban school, La Escuela Oficial Pacaja, in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, with the goal of improving the educational experience for its students. In Guatemala, an alarming number of students drop out of school by third grade to help support their families. Pacaja’s goal is to instill the value of learning in these students in the hope that they will continue their education. Many children understandably fail to see that education will have a better long-term payoff to help their situation compared to leaving school early to work to support their family or even to make a run for the U.S. border. This only serves to perpetuate the poverty cycle.
I have never seen happier children than the youngest ones I met at Pacaja. Most of the youngest students were delighted to play with us and always wanted to help us paint or carry equipment. It was extremely disheartening to see this joy with the knowledge that kids as young as 9 years old become desperate enough to try to escape to the United States or Mexico. As one of the adults pointed out, according to the past trend, at least six of the kids we met would drop out of Pacaja to join the long lines of migration north within the next year.
Pacaja receives no government funding and relies on external donations and service organizations for support. Just 123 dollars—less than the cost of a college textbook in the U.S.—can cover the costs of education for a child for a year. Pacaja identifies at-risk students, whose home life or financial situation may force them to drop out of school, most in need of support; all money raised will benefit those students.
Each dollar you donate will help keep a child in school.