Unification News for January 2002
School Project in Guatemala
by Gerhard Ernst and Ulrike Bessell
First of all I would like to thank our supporters of our school project in Santiago Atitlan at the remote but beautiful mountain Lake Atitlan, which is surrounded by towering volcanoes. With their help we were able to keep the project going for another year and also make some investments for the benefit of this community.
The RYS helped build a small tienda (shop), which creates a little income for the school needs. We also received the donation of 20 typewriters (little repairs were needed). With these we want to offer typing courses, which will also make a little money. We are working slowly but surely to make this project self sufficient but we are not at that point just yet (a rather long way to go).
Our school is in many ways very unique. We are the only school that has bilingual education in this community (Tzutuhil -- an old Mayan language -- and Spanish). Actually this is very important since the "Acuerdos de Paz" (peace treaty after 36 years of civil war) call for this type of education, but it has been implemented in only few places. (About 70% of the population are indigenous with many different Mayan languages).
Besides that we focus also very much on the cultural aspect. For example our school band made the number one place in the competition of school bands last year, and a tape was recorded with traditional songs and music of Santiago with a group of our students. For this new school year we found skilled teachers of music and art.
It is also important that the original "Cosmovision Maya" is not lost. It is interesting to know that there are great similarities among the different indigenous tribes around the globe. In today's society these original beliefs are very much forgotten, but actually they are very close to DP in the sense that they teach respect and love for the "Abuelitos" (grandparents -- original ancestors -- God) as well as love and respect for all things and beings in the cosmos.
We also guide the students to keep their school grounds nice and everyone participates in beautifying projects as well as serving the community with occasional cleaning projects. The school banner carries the words -- wisdom, purity, unity, study; and the school motto is: love God, love humanity, love the nation.
All teachers are young indigenous teachers from the community. The director and his wife (she teaches at the school also) are a blessed couple. The project educates the staff as well. We can see how everyone is growing in understanding as well as in practical ability. Teachers who had to leave the project, because they could earn more money somewhere else remain in close contact and take further interest in the development of the project. In this way we are also raising young community leadership, which is so important in a country like ours.
Maybe you are thinking how you could support a worthy cause with some donation, please consider our school project. You might think that you have only a small amount to give, please be insured that even small amounts make a big difference in such remote places like Santiago Atitlan. Of course there are many good causes and many places where emergency help is needed. Our project is a "peace project", rebuilding trust in a community which has suffered from much violence during the civil war. It is a project that is directed toward a better future and the peaceful living together of different cultures and religious beliefs.
I hope very much that some of you will feel touched in their hearts to support our project during this new school year. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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