Tuesday, March 6, 2007

PASO Helps Schools Twin

Judith Rapson is showing Tierra Linda school children pictures and valentines sent from Warminster Public School near Orillia Ontario.

Teachers at Warminster were delighted when local teacher Jean Earl presented them with the idea. Director Dave Rapson brought the valentines and photographs to Tierra Linda and posted some in each classroom.

Warminster is also a small rural village.

The intention is to keep up an exchange of stories, art, photos, experiences and email messages between the two school.

A Power Point presentation of Tierra Linda will soon be available.

PASO Directors Meet Tierra Linda Teachers and School Committee

Teachers, parents and village school committee see real improvement before rainy season for Tierra Linda's primary school.

Tierra Linda is a small mountain pueblo that receives few visitors and little attention.

Families work small farm fields high on the mountainside. Houses are mostly adobe brick and surrounded by plots of maize and vegetables.

Paso Helps Tierra Linda School

Fayne Bullen took the lead in convincing Paso directors to support the primary school in Tierra Linda, a small mountain village nearby. “It takes a half hour rough ride by vehicle over the mountain, or you can climb the footpath 800 feet,” says Fayne.

Directors visited the school twice and met with the school committee and teachers in January and early February.

The school will have door windows and doors for unfinished classrooms, repairs to the roof, additional electrical lighting. Village volunteers will do the installations and Paso will buy the materials.

Paso has also agreed to joint funding with another donor to complete two new classrooms on the roof. This will provide much needed additional space.

Paso will also appeal to donors to purchase school supplies, furniture and classroom and recreation equipment.

“We are making an investment in the children of hard working families,” says Fayne Bullen.

Plans for Micro Loans in Tierra Linda

Paso Por Paso directors will make twenty micro loans available to women in Tierra Linda, a village 800 feet up the mountain above Panajachel.

“It makes sense for Paso to focus its efforts in one small village,” director Pat Pretty explains, We are now working with the local school committee, and Tierra Linda has a women’s committee already in place.”

The women have already met twice to consult with women from San Jorge where a similar micro loan program has been in place for a couple of years.

The women decided that loans of 500 quetzales each (about $80 CAD) were the most manageable. These are awarded by lot and administered by the women’s committee. Participants learn how to do their own banking and make modest monthly repayments. No new loans are available until all loans have been repaid, so there is a collective responsibility to succeed.

The money usually helps to start small food based businesses raising chickens, selling vegetables, sewing, and weaving.

The trek to market in Panajachel is by a footpath straight up the mountain.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Several Paso directors return in January 2007 to Panajachel.

Paso por Paso directors are appealing to Ontario friends and relatives to support aid efforts in Gautemala. Several of the director will be in Panajachel during Jan. and Feb. /07 to dispense micro loans and student grants, do construction, and to research programs.

They are telling Ontarians that 100% of funds go to direct aid programs. Hopefully donors will take an on-going interest in a student, or a particular program.

• $110 USD Keep a child in primary school
• $300 Sponsor a teen in secondary school
• $100 Provide a Mayan woman in Tierra Linda with a micro loan
• $100 Help Tierra Lindal school to buy desks, install new toilets, provide school supplies

Donors are asked to make their cheques payable to “Paso Por Paso” and to call any of the directors for information.
40 Dalton Cres. S.
Orillia ON Canada
L3V 5J8

Catherine Bullen, Secty (705)329-0904
Dave Rapson, treas.
(705) 835-3218

c.f.bullen@rogers.com or roger.pretty@rogers.com

Mayan women do the laundry and run businesses.

Micro Loans Help Mayan Women

Last January our directors participated in the selection of women to receive micro-credit loans of 1000 Quetzales, equivalent to $160 CAD. Two hundred women assembled. Ten were chosen by lot to receive loans. The women themselves devised the system of selection. No North American capitalist dog eat dog world here. With great dignity the women accepted the tasks facing them and congratulated the recipients.

The story repeats itself again and again.

Credit is used to purchase chickens or piglets, or a sewing machine, or a kiosk, or some equipment to start a business. Just as in Bangladesh where Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunis began, micro credit system has an extraordinary success rate. These Micro-Loans are the tiny boost needed by Mayan women to build their own businesses. Most importantly they gain new skills to share with their children and their neighbours.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mayan challenges...

Guatemala has over 12 million people in territory about the same size as Central Ontario. Over 65% are Mayan. Over 40% are under the age of fourteen. Mayans are poor people. Most live traditional farm and village life where it is a struggle to feed and house families.

While the nation funds education up to grade six, many families are too poor to send their children to school, too poor to provide pencils, paper, books, shoes, clothes. Many children are at work by age six, gathering wood, shining shoes, working in gardens.

Families make great sacrifices to educate children. After the sixth grade tuitions are charged by the secondary schools and colleges.

There can be no better investment than to help families give children formal education. $110 USD will fund a child in primary school. $300 USD will provide the basics for a teenage boy or girl in a secondary school.