San Lucas Toliman Scholars – Corn, Studies and News

A number of our club members support students in Guatemala through the San Lucas Toliman Scholars program. We received this update from Dennis Evans:

“Dear friends and sponsors,

This last week we have delivered over 38 thousand pounds of corn to families of students studying in various junior high schools.

Nueva Vida is a community in which there is no access for trucks. Monday and Wednesday parents and students cleared an area beside the soccer pitch. (Tuesday it was raining!) They fixed a tractor path through a coffee plantation, which leads to the area. On Thursday morning early they marked the cleared area with circles, for social distancing. They set up a disinfection area at the entrance to the site, for parents to disinfect their hands as they entered. The truck came at nine o’clock. The local community leader, the school director, the chairwoman of the PTA and a student all expressed their thanks, then we started distributing the corn.

Many students helped their mothers carry the sacks, which weighed a hundred pounds. A couple of other local teenagers helped various mums, carrying the sacks and earning themselves a small tip. One boy was there with a wheelbarrow. Teachers messed in with the parents, helping manhandle the heavy sacks.

Almost all the families in the area work on coffee plantations. There is expected to be a good harvest this year. However, the plantations have reduced wages because of concerns over the world coffee price. Workers spend three months working, and then are laid off for three months, so they are not entitled to minimum wage.

They are so, so grateful for your help!

On Friday we did the same for families of students in the Tierra Santa school. That day, the students were arriving with their parents to hand in their homework. They met with the teachers, one at a time, while the teachers looked at their work, answered questions, and gave them the next set of worksheets. Then they collected their corn!

This week we did the same with students in the Pavarotti school. We help not only sponsored students, but also the families of other students identified as belonging to the poorest families.

Corn is of course the staple food. Used for making tortillas, it has a special significance for the Mayan people. (Many Google entries about this). In various times of crisis, people here have managed “as long as they have corn.”

The donation of corn was made possible by those of you who sent us donations, not only for your sponsored students (which we have distributed), but also to “help as needed” during this COVID crisis.

Travel in Guatemala has just been partially opened up, and Government help for poor families is now ending – for the few in the area who received it. I hope to continue to help the hardest hit families with corn, through to the end of this year, when the informal economy – hopefully – will have restarted.

In spite of everything, more parents than ever have come to us, seeking sponsorship so that their child can go on to study in junior high next year. I had thought we would have fewer applications, and parents wouldn’t want to continue sending their children to school. I was wrong. It seems a higher priority than ever for parents. They want their children to have a better life. God bless you all for making it possible.

The government has said that Colleges and Technical schools will reopen for in person classes in October. Ordinary schools are preparing to re-open for ordinary classes in January, after the long vacation and the coffee harvest.

Times are hard for everyone at the moment. Many of you will be unable to send donations to help us get more corn or to sponsor another student. If you decide to so do, they should be sent to:-
SLT Scholars, 34 Hilltop Lane St Paul, MN 55116
Please indicate if a donation is for COVID relief or to sponsor a new student.

Thank you so much!


He sent along some photos as well – click here to see the photo gallery: