Nidya Cachupe, coordinator of the Youth Program, and Caroline McGee, Guatemala Communications Coordinator recently passed along a few updates on activities the teenagers have enjoyed in the last several months.
The Youth Program took a field trip to “Cerro de la Cruz,” a green space on a hill overlooking the city of Antigua. “We walked up from the Antigua site, took pictures, ate a snack, and talked to them about their lives,” says Nidya.
Another week, the kids worked on a craft project, making piggy banks with papier-mâché. “The reason for this activity,” explains Caroline, “was because the youth had commented that they would like to do more excursions. Because we don’t have the budget for that, program staff decided to motivate the kids to save money on their own and with that money do different activities, like visit a pool in Antigua, museums, parks, etc.”
As the first in their families to attend junior high and high school, the teenage students sponsored by Common Hope struggle to navigate the school environment on their own. Most of their parents are working long hours just to get by and often cannot provide the support students need at home. These kids need someone to listen, encourage, and help them build skills. They need safe environments for socializing and increasing their resiliency.
The Youth Program offers a variety of activities that are both fun and educational. The goal of the program is to provide the necessary emotional and personal development outside the classroom so that students can succeed in school. Studies have shown that students in Guatemala are particularly at risk of dropping out of school at critical transition points between grades 6 and 7 and grades 9 and 10. Because of increased pressures to earn a living, greater difficulty of academics, and inadequate preparation from poorly funded primary schools, students drop out at a stage where manual work is the only option—in effect permanently closing the doors of opportunity that a few extra years of education would have provided.
The Youth Program provides the necessary holistic support to help students weather these critical transitions and achieve a much higher level of success in school.
Common Hope has been fortunate to receive grant funding for the Youth Program in 2007-2009 from the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation. This funding expires, however, at the end of year, so we will be looking for new funders for the Youth Program 2010. If you have any leads, please leave a comment. For more pictures of the Youth Program’s recent activities, check out our Flickr feed.