Saturday, August 10, 2013

This month’s scholarship distribution and a special presentation by students from our social work program on Effective Communication With Your Child

A few of the mothers from Llanos Del Pinal - Family Support Center;  Photo Credit: Caroline Yung

Over the last two weeks Pop Wuj visited the communities of Llanos Del Pinal, Chirijkiak, and San Juan Ostuncalco and distributed scholarships (becas in Spanish) directly to the mothers of 51 students.  With a total of 129 students in the scholarship program, the mothers of other recipients either pick up their becas directly at Pop Wuj, or it is paid directly to the student’s school as as part of their tuition. 
Mothers from Chirijkiak receiving their becas
In Guatemala, secondary school enrollment for students of official studying age was 46% in 2010 (World Bank, 2013).  These rates are even lower rates for females, indigenous, and those living in rural areas, a majority of the population served by Pop Wuj.  Becas of 100 Quetzales or roughly $13 US per month can be spent at the parents' discretion, and whether it is used for purchasing additional food for the family, or for school supplies and uniforms - the scholarships provide a financial incentive to keep kids in school.

Above two photos:  A few of our moms from Llanos Del Pinal

In our visits to San Juan Ostuncalco and Llanos del Pinal, we were lucky enough to have students of the Pop Wuj Social Work Program, Dorlisa and Gina lead a presentation on Effective Communication with your Child.  The talk began with what types of characteristics one would look for in a confidant, included a skit with several scenarios of some common interactions between mother and child, and a discussion on possible barriers to communication.  The two take-home points of the talk on methods to improve communication with your child were: 
  • Having special time with your child apart from all other activities such as work around the house
  • Allowing your child to have a choice in the activity itself

Gina and Dorlisa (left to right) in the midst of their presentation 

The presentation was well received by the mothers and began a stimulating discussion about communication methods and ways the mothers spent time with their children.  

If you would like to make a targeted donation through our partner, the Foundation Todos Juntos (click here) and fund a Pop Wuj scholarship ($160 US per year), you will become a well-needed padrino/madrina (godfather/godmother) to one of our students, and we will send you an annual update on their academic progress.  

Photo credit: Caroline Yung 2013 

Adam's Last Day, Winners of the Recycling Project and Honour Roll Students!

Hello from the Family Support Centre!

Last Friday marked Adam’s last day at the Family Support Centre.  All of the kids were sad to see him go, and though we look forward to hearing about his upcoming travel adventures, he will missed at the Family Support Centre and at Pop Wuj.  
Also on Friday, Carmen, Amy, the coordinators and students from the social work program held a meeting with the mothers to hand out the monthly scholarships for August.  At the meeting we  distributed several awards:

  • Recycling - awards were presented to the students that brought in the largest amount of plastic.  

  • Honor Roll - awards were given for students that made honor roll.  In July, there were nine students who received an average of over eighty percent in their marks this month.  

Congratulations to all of our top students this month!  

Photo credit: Caroline Yung 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

The circus comes to town....and the coordinator departs

Last Friday the circus came to town!! The Llanos del Pinal primary school finished early on Friday morning so the kids could head to the circus. All the kids piled into the back of my van and we trundled, bumped and laughed our way along the bumpy roads of Llanos del Pinal to the circus. It wasn't what many may class as a circus, per say. But a few clowns, a couple unicycles and a lot of laughs made it close enough. Our Guayito got selected to participate in the 'try to say on your feet and not vomit contest', also known as spinning around in circles for a long time. But after a lot of spinning and only 3 tumbles he came away victor, a can of drink his spoils of war. Afterwards we bumped and laughed our way back to the centre via a couple paseos around Llanos.

The Thursday prior to the circus we had our own little warm up performance. Thanks to a couple of talented and energetic students from the Pop Wuj Spanish school, we sang and danced our way through our Thursday activity.

Also on another lovely note the monthly staff meeting turned into a mini surprise party for our wonderful boss, the all encompassing social projects coordinator, Carmencita, with paches de papa (typical potato tamales), presents and pasteles. Happy Birthday Carmencita!!

On a little bit a self indulgent note, this is my last week as the coordinator of the Family Support Centre. I would just like to thank everyone involved in this amazing project, Pop Wuj for this opportunity and continued tireless work in the communities around Xela, the staff at the centre for your friendship, help and support, the mothers for your trust and support, everyone that supports the centre through Foundation Todos Juntos (your donations make a world of difference), and most of all the kids for the love and enjoyment I felt everyday. I will be back very soon!!