Imagine living in a remote village of Peña Blanca in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala:
The tiny Q’eqchí’ Mayan village of Peña Blanca in the Guatemalan northern department of Alta Verapaz is so remote that to get there you need to drive two hours from the city of Cobán and then walk for an hour through narrow, dusty country paths in sweltering heat. It is beautiful in so many ways, but it is a village that has been all but forgotten by the national education system.
Just like Peña Blanca, there are more than 40 villages unattended in the region. See the image below to see what the road looks like to get to the school from the closest urban center, Coban. Even though it is just 53 miles away, it takes at least three hours to get there due to the poor infrastructure.
Fredy Quib Oxom, a UWC Pearson Alumnus, is from Peña Blanca. Not too long ago, he was in the same position as the children who live there now.
“Sometimes, I have a hard time believing I got this far. I am the first one from my village to get a college education, to learn English, and to be competitive in the job market. Most of my classmates who had aspirations to continue their education and become teachers, businessmen, and doctors, dropped out of school and their only option was to turn to farming. While it is a dignified trade, is very poorly paid. I can only begin to imagine how my village, and their lives would be different if they had the opportunity to complete their studies. It’s my turn to help my village” says Fredy.
In 2010, the community Association called Xchool Ixim (founded in Peña Blanca by the community leaders) and Fredy created the K’amolb’e School in the village of Nimlajacoc to provide middle school and high school education to young Q’eqchi’ from around 25 remote villages in Alta Verapaz.
The school was created to assist youth graduates of primary schools who had the desire and support from their parents to continue their education. There was a need to establish a middle school program to educate Mayan Q’eqchi’ youth to continue their studies in the “ciclo basico” (the equivalent to middle school in the Guatemalan education system) and
“diversificado ” (the equivalent to high school with a trade focus). The diversificado program offered at the K’amolb’e School is bilingual education, where students graduate with the opportunity to work in bilingual (Spanish and Q’eqchi’) primary school educators. The education model allows students to retain their cultural identity while also engaging in global development. The model allows them to have the opportunity to gain employment after high school or continue their education into college.
Fabiana, a graduate of the K’amolb’e School was told by her parents that she wasn’t going to middle school because she is a woman who would soon marry and they had no money to pay for her education. “That night I cried and the next day I told my parents that if they didn’t want to give me education I was going to run away” She says. Although, she had to walk three hours to get to school, she convinced her parents to enroll her. Now she is completing her freshmen year at a local university.
Just like Fabiana, more than a hundred students have graduated from K’amolb’e School as Teachers of Elementary School Education. More than 20 graduates are enrolled at different universities and 5 have graduated from College. This achievement is incredibly significant because they went from being illiterate to having college graduate in their villages.
Although these achievements are great, there are still needs to help our students. The tuition the parents are able to pay is not enough to cover the teachers’ salaries.
We aim to raise $15,000 to cover these vital investments.
So, how we will use the funds?
To continue helping our students, we need to fundraise stipends of US$ 375 for four of our teachers for 10 months in a year.
To guarantee proper use of the funds that are raised, the local community organization called Xchool Ixim and Fredy Quib Oxom will manage the funds, providing documents that prove its use and will publish the reports on its website. http://xchool--ixim.blogspot.com/
With your help, we can reach our goal of providing free education to indigenous Q’eqchi’ middle school students in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.