Education is a critical aspect of breaking the cycle of poverty. We are so thankful that God has allowed 11 students to continue their education this school year through For the Love scholarships. We are hopeful for additional growth and education for these families and students in the years to come.
The challenges of the Guatemala City garbage dump community are many, especially for students who are dedicated to working hard at school. There are not many places and spaces available for students to get help, be encouraged or just use a computer or table to complete an assignment. The tutoring center was developed out of a desire to provide this space to the students in the mentoring program who receive scholarships. The tutors take their work very seriously and build intentional relationships with the students.
Kris Rocke and Joel Van Dyke write in their book, Geography of Grace, “For those who want to make sense of serving marginalized populations in hard places, the image of God ‘hovering’ in chaos also frees us from the need to bring God to those we serve in order to fix them or their circumstances. Rather, it gives us license to awaken people to the God who hovers there in the midst of their mess. This means we can greet the Holy Spirit in the hardest places with a holy kiss as opposed to having to bring Him there as a special delivery package.”
What can we say but Praise God over how He has used our open hands in Popabaj. Homes have been built, babies born healthy, children are growing and learning, moms are caring and interacting with their children and each other in new ways. God is good!
Community development strategies reach beyond mere charity to engage people in solving the problems in their neighborhoods,” write Alexia Salvatierra and Peter Hetzel in Faith Rooted Organizing. This builds upon a development rather than a relief approach. Often a community can solve its problems, but that development can be blocked by a number of outside pressures. For the Love of Missions continues to learn how to walk a fine line of engaging leaders without interfering in the vision and direction of the local leaders.
Public education is not free in Guatemala. In fact the cost of tuition, uniforms, books, shoes puts education out of reach for middle and high school students in the community around the garbage dump. There are many programs for preschool and elementary students but then the options disappear as they move to the next level of schooling. Families sometimes decide that instead of paying for school they would rather the children to find work and contribute to the income of the family. One of the primary objectives of the mentoring program is to transform this type of thinking which blocks long term hope and development. The scholarships go hand in hand with the mentoring program to hopefully change the family’s future.
Often we don’t even notice cultural differences until we come in contact with another culture. Erin Meyer in her book, The Culture Map gives a great analogy, “Allow me to repeat the familiar story of the two young fish who encounter an older fish swimming the opposite way. He nods at them and says, ‘morning, boys, how’s the water?’-which prompts one of the young fish to ask the other, ‘what the heck is water?’ When you are in and of a culture-as fish are in and of water-it is often difficult or even impossible to see that culture.” God sees and knows intimately all cultures. For The Love seeks to follow Him in continuing to be a force of love where He sends us.
Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett offer an important awareness of material paternalism in their book When Helping Hurts: “Being from a materialistic culture, North Americans often view the solution to poverty in material terms and tend to pour financial and other material resources into situations in which the real need is for the local people to steward their own resources. In addition, local businesses can be undermined when outsiders bring in such things as free clothes, or building supplies, undercutting the price that these local businesses need to survive.”
Thursdays in Popabaj are known as Thursdays of Love. The women come together to create a delicious and nutritious meal for their children. They laugh and share their lives. The children come together to play and learn in preparation for elementary school. The older children come home from school to a healthy meal to nourish and recharge. They all look forward to Thursdays and are thankful for the time together.Thursdays in Popabaj are known as Thursdays of Love. The women come together to create a delicious and nutritious meal for their children. They laugh and share their lives. The children come together to play and learn in preparation for elementary school. The older children come home from school to a healthy meal to nourish and recharge. They all look forward to Thursdays and are thankful for the time together.
One tutor explained the purpose behind playing games with students as a part of their tutoring session. He said you can ask a student how their day was, and you will get a short answer, but if you play a game and get to know them, you will start to hear more of both the challenges and successes the students experience each day. Ultimately building this relationship and being an encourager and support for the students is the most important aspect of the tutoring program.