On October 28, 2010, sixteen sixth graders from the William M. Botnan School in Santa Avelina, Guatemala, completed their elementary education. The upstairs assembly room was filled with proud parents and children dressed in their finest for the two hour ceremony. After each graduate had received a diploma, a jacket and Spanish Bible, and posed for photos taken in front of the Guatemalan flag, the students enjoyed a chicken dinner prepared by their teachers. On this occasion, volunteers from HELPS always present the children with a small gift to honor either promotion or graduation.
Since local public education only goes through 9th grade, HELPS offers scholarships so promising young people can continue their education. Most students are at Utatlan, a technical boarding school in Santa Cruz for grades 7-12. On October 29, we saw our first three students graduate: one from the early childhood program and two from the bi-lingual secretarial program. Proud relatives were present from Santa Avelina, even though it’s a four hour bus ride one way. PEPKIDS director, Cheryl Weeks-Rosten, stated, “I’ve seen a lot of high school graduations in my career, but seeing our girls walk across that stage was an incredibly rewarding experience that brought me to tears.”
The volunteers who give of their time in the educational branch of HELPS International are proud to invest in the lives of the young people of Guatemala and take joy in seeing the results of their commitment. You too can take part by contributing to either the Partners in Education Program (PEPKIDS) for children in grades K-6, or to the Scholarship Program for young people in grades 7-12.