Greetings once again from a very cool and windy Guatemala City! We have been experiencing some quite cold weather lately, which has many of us bundled under several blankets at night in hopes of staying warm (there is no central heating here). However, despite the cold weather, we are enjoying the beauty of our God as He continues to amaze us with how He is guiding us in The Spark Cafe Project!
A Glaring Need Revealed
Mid January in Guatemala means back to school for many Guatemalan children. However, for the majority of the children who daily visit us at The Spark, it meant nothing more than the start of another year of disappointment as only a few were able to enroll and attend school. There are a number of reasons for this, but it mainly boiled down to either a lack of funding (for uniforms and supplies) or a lack of interest by the parents to push their children towards a brighter future. We also have noticed over the last several weeks that most of the children we work with would also struggle in school as they lacked some basic preschool instruction such as recognizing their ABCs as well as the basics of reading and writing. We are obviously quite disappointed by all this, but at the same time, we are thankful that God had brought us to this small community of families as a potential solution to the situation.
"Little School" Launches
In January we had the honor of receiving as part time staff two great friends, Justin & Jenna, who have a big heart for our street friends as well as the many children we work with. Jenna happens to be a preschool teacher who wanted to use her skills / talents to bless the children in Guatemala. So you could imagine the excitement that we both shared when I began sharing with them the glaring need that we have at the Spark and the desire that Juli and I had to see some sort of tutoring program launched! Jenna quickly began gathering materials and resources and after talking with a lot of the children and their mothers, we decided that we would officially hold our first class on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 9!
Our first week was mainly focused on discovering what everyone knew as well as laying down the foundation for how the classroom will be run. We were thrilled that we had 10 children and 1 mother attending on that first day, but were saddened to discover that not only do they not know how to spell or recognize their own names, but none of them even knew when they were born! I went home that day heartbroken to know that these children (and even their mothers) don't even know truly how old they are... just an approximate age!
Our second day of class was also an eye opening experience, one that beamed in hope. We decided to start with learning the sound of the letter A as well as having them practice tracing / attempting the write the letter. We also had them trace their names numerous time to help them begin recognizing it. What amazed us is that even the youngest ones were able to quickly pick up writing the letter (and doing a great job of it as well). We were certain that they would struggle a bit, but they did not! In fact, they more than exceeded all expectations and all walked out of class that day telling every word that they knew that began with the letter A sound!
This next week we will be continuing with the letter A and probably moving into the letter B. We are also expecting a few more children to join us as well as more of the mothers. We are also expecting some of the street youth to attend. We will also be introducing our point incentive program that will reward each student for their work by allowing them to use their points to buy basic school supplies and hygiene products. If you would like to see a small video that we took from our second day of class, click here
. Please be praying for us as we continue developing this program. Pray for wisdom, peace, financial provision and for more teachers to join us!