Thursday, February 21, 2013

Xeabaj II Scholarships 2013

North to Alaska!  Last week Carmen and the project coordinator traveled alongside the medical team, to the highland pueblo of Xeabaj II, quite a distance off the Inter-Americana highway, for the first of three annual scholarship meetings. The residents of this windy, cool, slightly barren village (hence the name Alaska) are refugees of Hurricane Stan in 2005 which made their town uninhabitable. Since their relocation they have resumed their lives in this new home, which is not much like their original location lower in the valley.

This pueblo is home to about 40 beca (scholarship) recipients, also known as becados. Unlike many of the Pop Wuj becados which have individual sponsors, the community's 40 becas are funded by the Brown family. Additionally Xeabaj II is unique in that rather than give a $13/month scholarship to a lesser number of recipients, they have opted to spread the money a bit thinner and support more students. Sharing the proceeds of the sponsorship seems to create a sense of community while assuring that more children will continue their education, creating hope for a brighter future.

This morning the medical team used one classroom for health assessments of  community members while Carmen used another to address parents about the importance of school for the youngsters. Carmen's session was followed by the perfunctory paperwork and distribution of the trimester funds.

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