Thanks to the support of our friends, the programme expanded in 2016 and we are now able to accommodate up to 1,150 of the poorest young boys in Guatemala. The boys here study the national academic curriculum with an emphasis on maths and sciences which are very popular subjects with the boys in all grades.
As with all other schools programmes, the boys here enjoy a range of hobbies and extracurricular activities, particularly football, basketball, athletics, handball, dancing and music. They are also very keen on art and design and they love drawing and painting in their spare time. The youngsters also spend time learning about their native Mayan culture .
During the pandemic the boys have remained so grateful for their place at school and are even more motivated to succeed so they can help their families who have suffered through the pandemic. During school they like to stay in regular touch with their loved ones through visiting days (when the pandemic allows) or virtually by phone or through Zoom. If the family has no access to a phone or the internet this is often managed via a graduate of the schools programme acting as local contact person to provide access.
In Zona 6 technical training is provided in subjects including carpentry, welding, computing, auto mechanics and electronics. These are skills relevant to local job vacancies, so that the boys will leave school equipped with skills and trades to gain stable and long term employment.
The Sisters liaise constantly with local employers to pave the way for future jobs for the boys and they receive some support from these local organisations with specialised teaching – in auto mechanics for example from Toyota (as also occurs in Honduras). Technicians from the company spend time training the boys and preparing them for employment after school.
The boys utilise their new practical skills learnt in class to help the sisters stretch their budgets. They make many of the items of furniture used at the school – eg the storage cupboards utilised in dormitories are the product of their carpentry endeavours (see top photo).