This post comes from Meridith Heckler. Meridith is a sophomore at Kenyon College. I had the great privilege to travel with her to Guatemala where she spent the week working with the children in our after-school program. Here is what she writes and she has attached a wonderful video of the children which you will love!
"The students diligently worked to complete their lessons on Khan Academy (an online program with differing levels of mathematics) and Raz Kids (an online program with differing Spanish leveled reading) as they usually do. Some of the students have read all the Spanish electronic books on Raz Kids leveled A-Z. So, they have listened, read aloud, and happily took reading comprehension quizzes for over 250 different books. Their eagerness for learning can also be seen in mathematics: an eight year old girl just delightedly learned to multiply decimals accurately and an eleven year old now understands how to divide fractions.
After spending most of the week assisting students with Math and Reading, it was a treat to hear them sing "Orgulloso de ser Chapin" (translates to "Proud to be a Guatemalan"). The song's lyrics explain how it is an honor to be Guatemalan (or "Eres un Guatemalteco con honor"). I feel that these immensely respectful students' gratification can expand beyond the pride of their country as they can hold pride in their progress in literacy and math as well! With absolute sincerity I tell the students, "Usted debe estar orgulloso de todo el trabajo duro," or "You should be proud of all your hard work!" By attending the SewHope program, the children have made tremendous strides they can certainly be proud of. It makes me smile knowing that these students have the opportunity to sing this heartfelt song together about their Guatemalan pride. I feel humbled and honored to have the privilege to teach them and for them to teach me!"
My mom used to say "Where does the day go?" No truer words were ever spoken! I always have the greatest of intentions in letting you all know how things are going when I'm here but the days surely "get away from me..."
Really there are no words to describe how things are flourishing here. Since we finished the new building, ALL of our projects are doing so well. So many patients here.... all really happy to be treated in a beautiful setting with a good system. Thanks to our friends, Dr. Jim Skon and Doug Karl, we have a fantastic wifi system and so we are able to have an excellent electronic medical record. So now it's really easy to track our patients and follow up when they need treatment. As always, Orfe has done an incredible job connecting us with other organizations and arranging everything for a really successful "jornada" this week.
The municipality paid for a bus today to bring 40 patients from one of the remote villages. It is because of Orfe that these connections are being made. Of course, there were already 50 patients here before the bus arrived so I was a bit nervous! But somehow it all worked.
And the agriculture programs are spectacular! The children have been involved in growing tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, watermelons. They even have their own eggs with chickens ready to hatch.
We now have a psychologist here once a week to help the children and moms deal with the incredible stress in their lives.
We also now have a music teacher!
We've been truly blessed to have Meridith Heckler join us this week. She is a 3rd year student at Kenyon College. She is working with the children with more enthusiasm than I have ever witnessed! Every time I go in the room, she is kneeling by another student helping them with their math and reading. I LOVE hearing her stories when we return to the hotel each night. I'm considering dropping out of medicine and becoming a teacher.....
As always, every day there are heartbreaking stories but for today, I chose to look at the happiness in the faces of the children and the hope we are giving them for a better future! A huge thank you to all our supporters and especially to our workers here who make these things happen every day - THANK YOU ISMAEL (OUR FEARLESS LEADER! , ORFE, MAYRA, SEINER, and ALFREDO!!