Hand up, not handout

Local volunteers head to Guatemala to check in on projects including a middle school funded by the local charity

A number of volunteers with the local charity Aldea Maya set out recently to continue work in Guatemala and they will be there until Feb. 18.

In January of 2012, Aldea Maya started up a middle school in Chukumuk which offers schooling to children in Grades 7, 8 and 9. The charity pays all the teachers salaries, school equipment and student supplies and fees using donations  including those collected from many local residents, Vancouver Island University, Davies Electric and local Rotary Clubs. Pictures of the students with their new school supplies can be seen on the website. Those interested in sponsoring a child to attend school can visit the website for more information at www.aldeamaya.ca or email js0922@telus.net.

The charity also offers extensive garden and nutrition programs and provides energy efficient stoves, water filters, building projects for housing and more.

Founder Louise Sosa said she’s excited to see how the garden projects and the first women’s cooperative are progressing.

“We hope to start several more cooperatives,” she said in an e-mail. “Hand-ups rather than handouts.”

The charity’s first full time employee Jaime Marroquin began English classes this past November and December, and has started a blog on the charity’s website for people to keep up to date with all the work being done by the charity in the Lake Atitlan area of Guatemala.