A bit of background…
Gucumatz is a small, family-run, lakeside inn situated in the jungle of Petén, northern Guatemala. We are right on the edge of beautiful Lake Petén Itza near the tiny village of Caserio San Pedro. When we arrived here to start construction of the inn, we felt accepted immediately. Villagers were poor but tremendously generous and friendly and, little by little, we became involved in everyday village life. We soon discovered that many children could not attend school because their parents lacked the money for essentials such as notebooks, pens and pencils, or even shoes (a requirement imposed by the teachers). As a family, we started to sponsor the most needy and were soon joined by more family members and friends who expressed their desire to participate in our young venture. Thus our small social enterprise began to take shape.
Early sponsors and successes
When we were finally able to open the inn in 2005 and began receiving guests, several showed interest in collaborating, either by sponsoring a child of their own, or participating in or organising a village project. Springville Rotary Club in Utah has been marvellous about sponsoring, including setting up a playground and giving away clothes and educational equipment. Cosecha el Mundo has helped us so much, bringing groups to do sewing projects with the women of the village, making solar ovens, and organising vegetable gardens. My aunt Gwen gave swings and a slide for the pre-primary school.
Keeping you updated
As a result of all this abundant generosity, we have created our Gucumatz blog to keep everyone informed about the progress of our sponsored children and the activities we are carrying out in San Pedro. We do hope you’ll enjoy reading it and seeing the photos.
When we first arrived here, only primary education 6-12 years) was available in San Pedro. Four years ago, a secondary school, with excellent enthusiastic teachers, opened for children from 12 to 15 years. Nevertheless, as so often, there was a snag! Students were obliged, as part of the course, to attend computer classes once a week in nearby San José. The price of the bus fare plus fee was 10 euros per month and, once again, many willing families were unable to come up with this amount. At present, we are concentrating on helping fund these students in particular, as well as some of those who have already graduated from the first two promotions and wish to continue further education. We have two students (#1 from their respective promotion) in an excellent boarding school in Poptún; one is paid for by the Ernie Parkin’s Scholarship from the Springfield Rotary Club (Utah), and is studying agronomous engineering; and the second, funded by Gucumatz Lakeside Inn, is studying accounting. We have five more post-secondary students, studying as day students in towns nearby.
Next project: new library
Our hopes now are to have our own library, here in San Pedro, where students can come and borrow books to read, or do their homework (many have no electricity at home and work by candlelight). Eventually, as well, we hope to have a few computers of our own, perhaps donated, for students to use and to fulfil a long-time request of providing reading and writing classes for those illiterate adults who had no opportunities for studying when they were young.
We have brought a tiny piece of land and hopefully construction of a small library will begin soon.
We will keep you informed!
Thank you to all our supporters, Moya