Qualicum Beach charity hosts fundraiser for Guatemalan students

Aldea Maya has been working in the Central American country since 2012

Aldea Maya will be hosting a ‘Garden Party for Guatemala’ in Qualicum Beach next week to raise money for Guatemalan students going to university.

The registered charity has been working in the Central American country for 12 years. The group started a middle school in the village of Chuk Muk in 2012.

“When we started, nobody pretty well went past Grade 6,” said founder Louise Sosa.

Before the group came in and started working alongside Guatemalan residents who wanted to make a change, only one per cent of students in the village graduated from high school.

Now, the high school graduation rate is up to 25 per cent, and 20 students from the area were enrolled in university programs last year.

“These are the poorest of the poor … they can’t even afford a pair of shoes, and [now] they’re at university studying,” said Sosa.

The students study a variety of things, including music, systems engineering, business administration, lab technologies, English and accounting. The education makes a real difference in the lives of the community members.

“We have one boy who is the top student in math and physics in Guatemala. And he wasn’t going to go on to middle school,” said Sosa. “He’s already teaching at the middle school, because there’s such a shortage of math teachers… he also tutors all our students for free.”

Sosa says that the majority of students have parents that have never learned to read, write, or speak Spanish. Now, the next generation is attending university and giving back to the community.

“We’re trying to build the leaders. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to build the leaders that have vision, and ideas, and are honest,” said Sosa.

The fundraiser is a ‘Garden Party for Guatemala,’ and features tea and music from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 21. It takes place at 850 Flamingo Drive in Qualicum Beach, and entrance is by suggested donation of $20.

For more information on this project and others hosted by Aldea Maya, visit www.aldeamaya.ca.

emily.vance@pqbnews.com

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