San Lucas Toliman Update

Dennis Evans, who runs the San Lucas Toliman Scholars project in Guatemala, sent in this update & photos:

“Dear sponsors, friends and family,

Good to read of the improving situation in the US and the UK.

Here in San Lucas Toliman, individual schools are adapting to the situation, each in their own way. While they follow government and public health requirements, local school directors have decided how to apply them in their school. Depending on the number of classrooms available, some schools have classes every day: some two days a week, with the students doing homework on the other days, and so on.

Every town is graded every two weeks, red, orange or yellow. When we are in red, all students study at home. We hear on Saturdays what color we are. On that depends if studies take place in school or parents collect work for the students to do at home. Not an easy situation for teachers or students!

The good news is that the government has bought sixteen million doses of “sputnik” vaccine. To my surprise, I am registered to receive the jab. Guatemalan Health services attend to anybody living in the country, regardless of their nationality!

Last year, some of you very generously contributed funds to help build an annex to the local IMED junior high. The land was bought, and that would not have been possible without the donations sent through SLT scholars. The land has now been cleared, with teachers lending a hand in their spare time. Only minor fundraising activities have been possible, but with vaccinations, restrictions should be reduced, and it will be all systems go! The new building will allow a substantial reduction in class sizes.

As the students have not had some of the normal expenses for school activities, we have been able to give them more in the way of shoes, rucksacks, school supplies and so on.

Some sponsors have also donated money for us to help the most needy families in the area, regardless of sponsorship. I set up an advisory group to help us decide who and how to help. They visited the poorest families to assess individual situations. One member of the group said how nice it was, to visit houses and be able to do something to alleviate the extreme poverty in which some people have to live.

We bought three beds in a local store. They gave is a hefty discount, and an extra bed for free! An old lady, living on her own and sleeping on the floor, wept for joy that same day when we delivered her bed. I wish you could share the happiness of families when our workers fix a variety of their problems.

Unfortunately, with the on – off – on – off of the schools, and because students can earn some money to help their families, we have had a few students withdraw. There are many waiting to take their place: good students whose families are enduring hard times. Thank you for your understanding and continuing support.

All best wishes,