SLT Scholars Needs Sponsors
From Dennis Evans, founder of the San Lucas Toliman Scholars (supported by a number of members of our club), comes this letter:
"Dear family, friends and sponsors,
I do hope that you and your families are all safe, well, and that the current difficult situation is not causing you too many problems.
I would love to say that in San Lucas we are fine, but it would be more correct to say we're managing. (more or less). Thankfully we had a good start to the rainy season, and we are now in the canicula: a drier spell in the middle of the rains. Everything is very green, and the harvest looks as if it will be good this year.
Many of the people in San Lucas work on the land, and are still able to go to the fields to collect firewood or tend to the crops. Unfortunately, because of travel restrictions, the sale of produce is limited. Families are adapting to the loss of income. In their letters, children are writing about what they do in these days when they are unable to attend school. Some are learning embroidery, or their mothers are teaching them to weave. There is no market for local typical dress at the moment, as people are tightening their belts, but the skills they are acquiring will help the girls in the future.
Boys go to the hills to get firewood - always needed - and tend the crops. In March there was a move by the schools to encourage people to make small vegetable gardens beside their homes, if they had any land. Children have been happy producing, just a little of the food that their family eats.
The government has given a lot of publicity to the help they are giving the poor. The parents of grade school children receive a package of foodstuff every three weeks, for their children in primary school. Electricity bills have been subsidized and reduced by about 40%, and the phone companies are giving Q5 a day ($0.65) credit to all users, so that people can "stay in touch".
However, the major help is allocated through the local authorities. At the request of a church in the US, I made a video of interviews with half a dozen sponsored students from different areas. They all concurred that the help was not reaching their communities.
This is no surprise to the people, who time and again have shown the resilience of the Mayans to the various catastrophes and disasters that befall them. Private enterprise is flourishing, with people using their ingenuity to make the best of things. Solidarity leads to teenage and other groups trying to get donations, and giving food parcels to the elderly. Former students call and visit to "make sure I'm ok", which is good of them. Yesterday former students Anibal and Eunice came to show me their two-month-old baby: so nice that they thought of me.
The teachers are taking the "learning at a distance" seriously. The Pavarotti school is sending out and receiving homework electronically. Children are using borrowed phones, and the school has also lent some of their students the Tablets we bought for them three years ago. A few are unable to work this way, and the teachers drop off the work in their communities. The IMED and Encar, perhaps more practically, are giving out and collecting worksheets and homework, every two or three weeks. Parents collect and deliver on the specified days, with strict attention to the appropriate hygiene restrictions. School reports have been issued for the first two semesters this year. The school year normally finishes in October, but this year it will probably be extended. Some schools may reopen at the end of August.
In Guatemala, since April 13, the wearing of masks has been compulsory in public. Beaches, parks, lakes and so on have been closed. I know many of you are in similar situations, and we are all getting used to the "new normal".
Given how hard the situation is in the US, most sponsors will be unable to send extra help to their students' families. Those who can and wish to do so may send a donation to our MN address: SLT Scholars, 34 Hilltop Lane St Paul, MN 55116. This of course is apart from your sponsorship, and we will get the money to the family as soon as we hear of the donation.
Attached a few photos, some of the "old normal". They show fun stuff that happened in schools during the summer months in previous years.
All best wishes,
If you'd like to sponsor a student, it's $250 per year, and yes, they're a 501 (c) 3. More info here: