July is finally here, and it’s hard to believe we’re departing in only 17 days! We’ve been busy prepping for the trip and reaching out to local schools, businesses, and publications — we’re thrilled to be a new part of the Carroll County Times website, and welcome our new readers!
For any first-time readers, we are three May 2010 graduates of the University of Maryland volunteering in Central America starting July 27th. We’ll work in local communities, and use stories, photos and videos to give our readers an inside view of life over there. Throughout the trip, you’ll have the chance to communicate and connect with the people we meet. While our time at each location will of course be limited, we hope that the connections between our readers and these communities will continue to grow. Thanks to all the students, teachers, and corporations that have already gotten involved in the project; we can’t wait to get started!
Our last post discussed tropical storm Agatha, and while news of this storm has started to fade from headlines, rebuilding is just beginning. One of the biggest challenges ahead is food distribution. Even before the storm Guatemala held one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in Latin America and the world – a startling half of the country’s children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Mayan Families (our second stop) works closely with local populations struggling with this issue and since the storm has been tirelessly bringing food, clothing, blankets, and medical supplies to the towns surrounding Lago Atitlan.
Mayan Families is also helping two local schools extensively damaged by the tormenta. All 1,064 students now share one school, allowing each student only three hours per day because of the lack of space. Such challenges threaten to completely derail the educational goals of these kids, who are already fighting the odds in a country with extremely low attendance rates past primary school.
But there is some good news: they’ve been given a small piece of land for a new school, and now they’re looking for sponsors. If they can raise $20,000, they can rebuild using sturdy cement blocks (rather than tin), making it more able to resist future storms.
With natural disasters, the story is never over as soon as it’s gone from the headlines, and there is still much work to be done. Check out the Mayan Families website to learn more, get involved, or donate. (Learn more about our first stop, Volunteer Peten, here.)
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