COVID-19 threatens education for Maya Jaguar students
The COVID-19 virus emerged in Guatemala in early March and almost immediately curtailed our efforts to offer a quality education to our middle and high school Mayan students at our mountaintop boarding schools.
The government ordered all schools closed and our kids were sent home to their villages where they will remain for an indeterminate time. They are at risk—not just from the virus—but from a prolonged interruption of life-changing education as well as looming food shortages.
In this impoverished area of Guatemala, the odds are heavily stacked against our students who were born into centuries-long poverty, racial discrimination, chronic malnutrition, and illiteracy. These realities condemn most boys to a lifetime of field labor and subject adolescent girls to early marriage, premature childbearing, and lifelong drudgery.
As I write, our students are in lockdown in their villages, blocked from leaving by road barricades and civil militia. Only the village leader has the authority to grant leave by authorizing a sealed form with his signature.
At the same time, the government has mandated that private schools such as Maya Jaguar create a home-school plan to continue educating students. With our students living in more than a dozen far-flung impoverished villages, this is a very tall order! Computers are non-existent, Internet access is intermittent if it exists at all, and electricity is not available to guarantee cell phone usage (if indeed the student has a phone, which some do not). These are nearly insurmountable obstacles to educating our students! We cannot physically travel to the villages: all “non-essential" travel is prohibited, and only authorized cargo vehicles are allowed on the roads.
How do we fulfill the government’s mandate—and our desire—to continue to educate our students? Seems impossible, yes? But Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala will achieve the impossible. The well-being of our school kids and their futures depend on it.
This week an accomplished educator and full-time virtual instructor from South Carolina, Wendy Faircloth, contacted us, offering to volunteer her invaluable services to help our teachers develop a viable plan, daunting obstacles aside.
This new test of our resilience and creativity in overcoming the countless hurdles along the pathway to developing opportunities for impoverished Maya youth is just that—one more test.
As our remote education plan unfolds, we will be sharing personal stories of how our teachers and students are meeting these new challenges. Thanks to all who continue to support our life-empowering education for Mayan students.
Be well and stay safe!