54 Tierra Linda women arrived in two group for the annual Microloan presentation. Each women received a cheque for Q1000, about $140 US, in order to start or expand a business in Tierra Linda. Most businesses are agricultural related although there are some textile and jewelry businesses. The women sign or finger print a document, receive the cheque, have a light snack and drink and are then taken to the bank to deposit the money. Several women took the opportunity to thank Paso for the loan and stated how they make a difference in their lives. Paso members will visit with several of the recipients in Tierra Linda on Monday to learn more about their business and to
We rounded the corner about a mile above Tierra Linda and were greeted at the overlook by several hundred children, men and women. They were all dressed in their traditional clothing and so excited to see us. Their marching band then paraded us down to the school for the official opening of the new roof. A marimba band, the marching band, numerous student dance groups and dignitaries from every possible organization including the army entertained us under the new roof. Each Paso member was presented with a gift and the official ribbon cutting ceremony highlighted the day for the community. Valentines made by Warminster and Mnjikaning schools were then exchanged with the Tierra Linda classes. A meeting with the teachers was followed by a traditional lunch of chicken, rice and salad. Paso members then had a meeting with two of our sponsored students before heading back down to Panajachel.
Paso Por Paso sponsored students come to the Mayan Families office to make valentines for their sponsor or sponsors. It is an excellent opportunity for the Paso directors to reacquaint themselves with each of the students. The volunteer staff at Mayan Families help with instructions and translations. Each student makes a special original valentine which is then brought back and delivered to the sponsor. Each student also receives a 60 pound bag of food to take home. Paso provides the transportation by flete back up the mountain to Tierra Linda since it is close to an hour walk. Thanks to Kathy Almond for assistance with the photography.
Paso directors have arrived in Panajachel and one of the first events was a meeting with some of the Mayan Families volunteers we will be working with for the next 2 weeks. The gathering was held at the Rancho Grande Hotel were some of the directors are staying. Most of the volunteers are new and it was the first time to meet with them prior to a very busy two weeks checking up on our many programs. Garry Fell discussed the connection with Mayan Families since 2006.
National Geographic TV station will be airing a show about new Maya discoveries in Guatemala. A new aerial photography method shows that the ruins of a sprawling Maya civilization was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed. It also estimates that the population was 2 to 3 times what was originally thought to be. It airs on February 6th at 9 pm.
Paso Por Paso members picked up 150 valentines from Warminster Elementary School and will be taking them to Guatemala next week. The valentines were made by the “Spirit Group” and several classes at the school in the last few weeks. A very special thanks is extended to the group and each of the teachers who made the valentines. Their extra efforts for the children at the Tierra Linda school helps to make a very tough life much better.
The valentines will be delivered to the students at the Tierra Linda school and handed out to them on February 14th. The Mayan students in the very poor mountain village appreciate receiving the valentines and look forward to it each year.
The students at the Tierra Linda “Primaria” (K-6)and “Basico” (6-9)will also be making valentines that will be delivered to Warminster when the Paso group returns in late February. A visual presentation will also be shown at that time which shows the highlights of the trip as well as the very different lifestyles experienced by the children in Tierra Linda.
Mnjikaning Elementary School in Rama also participates in this program and their valentines will also be exchanged with the Tierra Linda students.
The roof was finished and the school was repainted in time for the students returning for the new 2018 school year. The students, wearing new school shirts, celebrated the new look and expressed their thanks to Paso Por Paso. Paso directors and friends are looking forward to the February 14th visit when they will get their first look at the finished project.
The Rotary Club of Orillia recently made a $2500 donation to Paso Por Paso. The donation will be used for the new roof over the play area at the Tierra Linda Elementary School in Guatemala.
The club was pleased to help fund this project as they “believe education is so important and through education we can achieve peace around the world.” Rotary has six areas of focus that they invest in: Promoting peace; Fighting disease; Providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; Saving mothers and children; Supporting education and Growing local economies.
Each of these areas of focus align perfectly with Paso’s goals in the village of Tierra Linda. Paso provides deworming medication to the students, has installed a new water filtration system, updated washroom facilities several years ago, sponsors 32 students to attend school, has helped with the building of 7 classrooms and offers 54 microloans to women to develop their business in Tierra Linda.
Paso was pleased to be able to present a slide presentation to the Rotary members which outlined the goals and achievements of Paso since 2006. The Rotary Club of Orillia offers two different times to meet – lunch or cocktails. There are 42 members who meet at lunch and 31 who meet for cocktails. They have two major fundraisers – Lobsterfest in May and Girls Night out in October.
The directors of Paso Por Paso, a local Orillia Not-for-profit organization, sincerely thank the local Rotary Club for this generous donation. Some Paso directors and supporters will be travelling to Guatemala in February and will be reporting the roof progress back to the Rotary Club. A dedication of the new roof, with a plaque acknowledging the Rotary Club donation, will be unveiled in February 2019 once all donations and construction is completed.
Warminster Elementary School presented a cheque for $277 to Paso Por Paso directors recently. The money was raised to sponsor their student, Lidia, in Tierra Linda Guatemala.
Lidia is sponsored through Paso Por Paso and is 10 years old and in grade 4. Lidia loves to go to school and hopes to become a teacher. She has 7 siblings and her father works as a building assistant earning about $65 a week. The family often does not have enough food to eat, so this sponsorship is essential in order to allow Lidia to go to school rather than work to help support the family.
The Spirit Team, a student leadership group at Warminster, raised the money by selling Candy Grams to the students and teachers in the school. There are approximately 30 students involved under the direction of teachers Mrs. Sheridan, Mrs. Alexander, Ms. Knight and Mrs. Kudar. The group also organizes Spirit Days at the school and helps to lead assemblies.
The group is also making valentines which will be taken to the elementary school in Tierra Linda and delivered by Paso directors to the students there on Valentine ’s Day. The Tierra Linda students will also be making valentines which will be returned to the Warminster students. Mnjikaning Elementary School in Rama is also involved in the valentine making program coordinated by Paso Por Paso.
For more information about Paso Por Paso, visit our website at www.pasoporpaso.ca. Regular postings from Guatemala detailing the annual February trip will be on our blog, pasoporpaso.wordpress.com/ and our Facebook page, Paso Por Paso Orillia.
Photos below: Lidia making a valentine for Warminster Elementary School, Dale and Howard visiting Lidia in her home in 2017 and Marj Tomlin accepting the cheque from Paige Hawker, Madelyn McNutt, Katie Soukup and Mrs. Sheridan.
Dale Duncan has been a Paso Por Paso director for the last 3 years and is very involved with fundraising efforts. Each year she purchases original Guatemalan items while there during her annual February visit.
During her recent visit she acquired a number of paintings and other pieces of artwork from various sources in Guatemala. She stated that “being an artist myself I love to explore and support other artists and their work.”
Dale purchased some of the art in San Juan, a small community on Lake Atitlan. San Juan is well known for its artwork and textiles and the main street leading from the docks is a popular spot for tourists to visit and purchase original items.
She also acquired 4 paintings under consignment from Ronaldo and Marvin in San Antonio. Paso supported some women there with microloans and one of the recipients was Candelaria. During our home visit with Candelaria, Dale recognized the quality of some of the paintings which had been done by her 2 sons, Ronaldo and Marvin. She decided to bring some back to Orillia and sell them with all of the proceeds going back to the boys. Candelaria was experiencing medical problems and the extra money from the sale of the artwork would be of great benefit to the family.
Dale recently held an online auction of these pieces of art and included one of her original paintings of Guatemalan women. She felt that this method would be more efficient and reach more people. She is still collecting the money and expects to take about $250 back to Ronaldo and Marvin and contribute about $300 to Paso.
Paso thanks Dale for this fundraising effort and also thanks all of the individuals purchasing the artwork and thus supporting Paso Por Paso and Ronaldo and Marvin.