Pepijn’s Volunteer Experience

I was with Niños de Guatemala for 2 months during Summer School where I gave Field Hockey classes to the kids, it was so fun! The children absolutely loved it and they were so happy. They listened really well and really learned a lot.

I also helped the teacher in giving classes, correcting papers and more – I also gave a few math and English classes!

Besides the work and projects, Niños de Guatemala is very active as well. They organise special social volunteer nights where you meet a lot of new people and have an awesome time.

The people who work at Niños are also really caring. For example, they are on hand 24 hours and will arrange home visit doctors and help with anything else you need whilst you are in country.

Niños de Guatemala is really awesome and would highly recommend it to individuals and groups!

Changing lives

I became a madrina to little Gessell Garcia last year. This bright, affectionate girl is in preschool and just beginning her educational journey. Although she’s nearly 2,000 miles away, I feel closer to her every month as we exchange news about our families and lives. I don’t speak Spanish, so a Padrino team member translates my letters to her and her responses.

I’m deeply touched by the growing bond between us. She sends me drawings not just of herself but of me and my dog (who she hopes to be friends with someday). It’s her way of communicating with me until she learns to read and write. I recently gave her art supplies for her birthday. Each month, her drawings get better.

She wants to be a teacher. It amazes and humbles me that just $50 a month can help her achieve that goal, to give back to her community and give others a way out of poverty.

I’m so grateful that I have the means to help her dreams come true, to support her schooling as she finds her unique way in the world. Guatemalan girls like her too often end up married and raising kids before they’ve had a chance to grow up themselves. They never have a chance to learn all they can be. I would like to give Gessell more choices in her life, more opportunities to discover all her gifts and her true calling.

I became a madrina because I was asked to help. I hoped my support would change a child’s life. What I didn’t foresee was how that child would change me.

Cathy Chapman

 

For more information on becoming a Padrino click here, or to sign up right away, fill in this short form.

Melany and her Padrino

Melany is a student in her second year of  middle school who has been with the program since it began in 2009. Here, we spoke to her about having a Padrino and what it means to her.

What is the name of your Padrino?

James

When did you meet James?

He came to volunteer when I was in 3rd grade and he was teaching music classes. He became my padrino when I was in 5th grade. I never thought then he would have been my padrino. I started receiving letters that were signed from James. The day that they were going to introduce me to my padrino, he was there, and I wasn’t sure if it was him or not. He asked me “do you know who your padrino is?” and I guessed him. I was really excited!

What is the coolest thing you have learned about James?

That he adopted a cat. Now we both have a cat!

What do you value most about your relationship with James?

He is sincere, and he always helps me with English and encourages me not to give up. I don’t like math either but he tells me I have to continue studying, even when I don’t want to. He is my motivation and the reason that I continue to move forward.

What does your padrino mean to you?

He is a blessing to me because he is another form of help, because there is no other person besides my parents that has supported  me with my studies,  and no other person that says “I’m going to help you in school.” There are people that really care about children and that is admirable, and I admire James because even though he’s young, he’s taking being a padrino seriously.

Do you want to say anything to people who are interested in becoming Padrinos?

Yes. There are many children that need the support, because they often stop studying and going to classes because they feel upset, and they don’t have a support system. But if they have the support, they are more likely to keep going to school. I think kids should have a padrino because with James, I am happy, and he is my motivation.  I imagine that other kids would receive the motivation they need to continue studying as well.

To learn more about sponsorship click here or email padrino@ninosdeguatemala.org

To sign up to be a Padrino please fill in this short application form

Juanito’s Story

Juanito is a 9 year old student in third grade at our elementary school, El Porvenir. He loves to play and is always full of energy. Unfortunately, Juanito’s childhood has been consistently challenging. He does not have a father and his mother works in another town. She leaves for months at a time in order to support her family as a single mother. For the majority of his life he has been raised by his grandmother, aunt and uncle.

Prior to receiving help, Juanito had many problems in school. He often had difficulties following direction and getting along with his teachers. In addition he often quarrelled with his classmates and struggled academically. In order to create a better learning environment for Juanito, the psychology program, social work program and academic coordination team all collaborated to create a plan that gave Juanito the extra attention he needed to succeed in school.

Juanito began with individual therapy sessions, where he was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. After he was diagnosed, the staff worked with Juanito to build a learning plan to find the most effective way to teach him the curriculum while supporting his development. Juanito began attending refuerzo (extra classes in the afternoon for additional help with his school work). They also worked with his grandmother and uncles to assure that he was getting the attention he needed at home to keep up with his classes. They became more closely involved in his life by helping him with his homework and monitoring his behavior. With hard work, extra attention and time we could see the positive changes of Juanito’s behavior and academic performance.

At the end of the year Juanito’s mother will return and be able to provide more stability in the household, and combined with the work we have been doing this year, he will be able to succeed in his future classes. Now his attitude and concentration has improved significantly. He often demonstrates support and encouragement towards his classmates, shows interest in learning, and helps his teachers and peers when they need it. We are already working on a support plan for the upcoming year so Juanito can continue to thrive.

The names and photographs in this blog post have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Pedro’s Story

There are many children at our schools that experience serious hardships. The school works very hard to help the children grow, learn, and find happiness despite difficult situations within their daily lives.

This is the case for Pedro, a child who joined our school in 2011. Prior to 2011, Pedro had not attended school because his father did not support his education. However, his mother insisted he enrol at NDG. Pedro’s first year at Nuestro Futuro was especially hard because it took him time to adapt to his new surroundings. He missed many classes and was frequently late, yet with support from his teachers and social workers he began to improve.

When Pedro was in third grade his mother passed away from a terminal illness. During the time of her sickness, Pedro spent many of his days accompanying her to her doctor appointments and helping her at home. When she passed away, it was a difficult time for Pedro. We spent countless hours supporting and helping Pedro stay in school, as we always new he had the potential to be a great student.

After the death of his mother, in 2015, Pedro’s brother passed away. Pedro was extremely close to his brother and he was very important to him. Again, we wanted to support Pedro by giving him extra attention and empower him with extra responsibilities outside the classroom. That way he would feel strong and capable, and stay enrolled in school.

Pedro’s life has not been easy but he has a resilience that has taught both his peers and teachers so much about having a positive outlook and working hard despite life’s hardships. We are immensely proud of Pedro. He is currently a student in 6th grade and this year he will graduate elementary school and move into middle school, where we are sure he will continue to be a great example to everyone around him.

 

The names and photographs in this blog post have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.