Friday, November 28, 2014

Dibujar con Luz: Photography Workshops with the Family Support Center Grandes

Text by Amy Scheuren
Photos by Jeff Leventhal and Amy Scheuren

The older youth at the Family Support Center participated in the now annual photography workshop and activity.  This year we divided the group in two--one group consisting of the kids that were new to photography and the other group of youth who had participated in a photo workshop in 2013.

We started with the beginners on Thursday 11/13/14.  Five youth attended a workshop with Voces de Cambio (Voices of Change) a Xela writing and photography/youth development project for young women and girls.
Ice Breaker

Ice Breaker

Still breaking the ice

After the ice breaker, we learned about the history of photography as well as different types of photos, including portrait, landscape, publicity, still life, abstract, and photojournalism.  The kids were also introduced to the rule of thirds and then released to Parque Central to take photos for about an hour.

Receiving a digital camera

Pictures in the park

Pictures of pigeons in the park

Pensive Selvin

Part two of the photography project included the rest of the 13- to 19-year-olds who had already participated in the beginner workshop last year.  We reviewed the different genres and then learned about composition and the rule of thirds.  This group also went to Parque Central to capture images.

This week the kids will review their photos, talk about them, and choose the best five from each photographer.  We hope to have the photo exhibit completed for the Christmas party in mid December.  Special thanks to Dalila, Ester, and Omar at Voces de Cambio!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Scholarship Activities in Chirijquiac, Cantel

Text and Photos by Amy Scheuren

Last Wednesday morning Carmencita and I traveled to La Estancia, Cantel for the last scholarship meeting for the Chirijquiac group.  We held the meeting at the home of a relative of a one of scholarship families.  Normally we meet in Chirijquiac, but to our surprise we found that the mothers were cooking a special lunch for us to celebrate the end of the school year! 

Last year, the Chirijquiac group had its first high school graduate.  This year, three more young women are graduating from high school.  Congratulations to Carolina, Mayra, and Yesica!  We received final grades for nearly all of the students and talked individually with the students, asking about educational plans and options for next year.

Scholarship students

While the students worked on their letters to their padrinos and and madrinas (sponsors), Don Gonzalo spoke about the history of the group, which started before Pop Wuj became involved.  Pop Wuj and the community group found each other over 20 years ago and many family members of current students have also received educational support.  It has primarily been a group of female students, but now there are a few boys in the group as well.

Don Gonzalo speaking about the history of the group

Working on letters for their sponsors

Carmencita also talked about the importance of education and completing high school.  We highlighted teen pregnancy and early marriage as one of the tragedies of Guatemala.  It has been and continues to be customary in some parts of Guatemala for a girl to perhaps complete primary school, only to be told explicitly and implicitly that now it's time to start a family.  Or if a teenage girl becomes pregnant, the problem is considered "fixed" if she gets married and moves in with the husband's family.

We see young pregnant girls in the Pop Wuj clinic.  We meet and work with 15- and 16-year-old mothers in the nutrition program.  We conduct stove interviews with mothers who had their first child at age 13.  These young girls are usually malnourished and giving birth to malnourished babies.  The health and nutrition issues associated with early pregnancy are obvious, but what of the other consequences?  Fewer years of education for the mother as well as fewer economic possibilities.  A child's outcomes improve as the level of education of the mother increases.  A less educated mother means lower outcomes for the next generation.  Emotional immaturity, family instability, and domestic violence are other widespread consequences in Guatemala.

This group, with four female high school graduates, is an example of the students' and parents' efforts to combat the social and educational issues facing Guatemala--especially rural, indigenous Guatemala.  Finally, Carmencita urged the students to not only think individually, but also collectively in order to improve their communities.

Enjoying lunch in the outdoor kitchen

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Family Support Center Olympics!

Pop Wuj just held its annual Las Olimpiadas, which is our unique version of field day for the participants at the Family Support Center. We arrived at the field bright and early to get started. We divided into four teams captained by Johanne, Adam, Lily, and Santos.

Los Rojos

Los Azules

Los Verdes

Los Amarillos

The first game was a sack relay race! Team Blue won a very close race and advanced early on in the standings.

Next we played Pantano, which involved crawling at top speed underneath ropes without touching them. A 5-second penalty was added for touching the ropes, though only a few managed to make it across without a penalty. We saw a lot of interesting strategies, though rolling seemed to be the fastest and safest way to make it down the line. Team Green ended up with the fastest overall time!

The third game was a three-legged race! Blue and Yellow tied, leading to a tiebreaker with the two best partners on each team racing. Yellow came out with the win, probably due to Santos' unique strategy of carrying his partner, Jonathan.

During our snack break we held the finals for the soccer tournament that had been going on throughout vacation. The game was close, but Team Peru edged ahead of their opponents in the final minutes, winning 4-3 and taking home the first ever trophy!

Team Peru with superstar goalkeeper, Lesly (center)

We continued after with another team game in which each player had a balloon tied around their ankle. The goal was to protect your own balloon and those of your teammates while popping those of your opponents. After eliminating most of the competition in the first round, we made the field smaller and put the finalists in the middle. We had representatives from Team Red, Team Green,  Team Yellow, and Team Blue. Ultimately, we ended with a tie between Team Red and Team Green.

With Team Green leading in the standings, we began our final relay race around the field. Green ultimately edged out the rest of the competition, winning by 2 seconds with a time of 3:32. Red and Yellow tied, finishing with a time of 3:34, while Blue flew in only a second after with a time of 3:35.

Ilcy, running the relay

Wilson, running the relay

Although Team Green won the Olympics, everyone enjoyed the insanely fun day. Who doesn't love a little exercise and some friendly competition?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More Family Support Center Vacation Activities

Text by Amy Scheuren
Photos from Jeff Leventhal

Friday October 31st was a big day for the Family Support Center participants.  As we’ve already shared, the afternoon included tons of Halloween costumes, scary stories, and jack-o-lanterns during the Halloween party.  

However the morning was just as busy.  The older kids, ages 12-19 years, traveled to Xela to prepare the dessert for the party.  The group of 13 arrived promptly at Pop Wuj at 9am and had a laugh before dividing into two groups.

Half of the group set to work on making apple crisp while the other half began working on the decorations for the Halloween party.  The groups traded activities halfway through the morning.

The kids washed, peeled, and cut the apples while others prepared the sugary, oatmeal mixture that would go on top.  Other kids worked on the first jack-o-lantern.
Damaris and Angelica get to work

Peeling and cutting apples

Gaby and Carmencita work on the second batch

Two trays in!

Three apple crisps cooling

Jacqueline and Angelica matando a una calabaza

Jacqueline separating seeds

In the other room Lena, a Pop Wuj Social Work Spanish student, Adam, and Lily, worked with the kids on creating decorations and later playing board games. 

Gaby and her pumpkin

Selvin creates a bat


'Fred' and the group