José Manuel Cian simply wants to go to school. He lives in a poor, rural community on the outskirts of Cuilapa, in southern Guatemala. The families here are farmers who have worked the land for generations. They are locked in a cycle of poverty. For their children, like José, education is the way out.
But there are several barriers to education here. For many, the cost is simply too high. Education isn’t the given that it is in the developed world. In rural Guatemala, it’s perceived as a luxury. There is tremendous pressure from parents to have their children drop out to work the fields. It’s a tough situation that requires an even tougher decision: survival for the family, or a way out of poverty for the kids?
There is no alternative to the area’s public school. Teachers do the best they can with limited supplies – desks and chairs are broken, there are no blackboards or chalk, and the students may even be forced to share writing utensils.
After walking miles to school, hundreds of children in the community of Los Chilitos squeeze into a single classroom. The atmosphere is cramped, unfocused and overcrowded. Students struggle to hear their lessons as their teachers must shout over one another in the small confines. Class sizes continue to increase in the crumbling concrete building. Despite this, students show up, eager to learn. They come because they want to create a better future for themselves and there is no alternative.
Related: Addressing Poverty in Guatemala
Father Raúl Monterroso has worked tirelessly to improve the material and spiritual condition of the greater Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima. He has lifted many out of extreme poverty but still feels called by God to do more. Fr. Raúl believes Santa Rosa’s children are facing academic challenges because the area lacks a Catholic education system.
To begin solving this problem, Fr. Raúl has come to Cross Catholic Outreach with a vision. He is eager to build a new Catholic school that can serve as a Catholic alternative to the Guatemalan public school system: the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School. Together, we hope to bless the poor and glorify our Lord with the construction of the first multipurpose Catholic school campus and evangelization center in the area.
Related: Catholicism in Guatemala
The two-story Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School will serve the educational needs of 200 students. The building will feature 14 classrooms plus administrative offices, restroom facilities, electricity and running water. The Church’s presence among Santa Rosa’s poor will be further strengthened with the 2,000-person capacity multipurpose facility – providing the entire area with a magnificent center of Catholic formation for generations to come.
Keeping the kids in school is another challenge. It is reported that 41% of students in Guatemala drop out before the ninth grade. To address this, your gift to this project will help fund scholarships for 83 of these at-risk children who would otherwise miss out on an education.
Related: Our 2020 Vision for Guatemala
José is a bright student with an even brighter future. But this wasn’t always the case. Not long ago, he did not attend classes – he couldn’t. And without a scholarship, José – like many of his peers – would not be in school. He too would be out in the fields with little hope of escaping poverty.
The students here want to learn. They have dreams of attending college and becoming accountants, engineers, and business owners who can break the cycle of poverty and provide for themselves and their communities. Your gift to Cross Catholic can help make their ambitious dreams a reality.
You can invest in the futures of students like José. By funding education programs, you will help break the cycle of poverty that traps children in Santa Rosa and all across the developing world. You can answer children’s prayers for an education and an opportunity for a better life.
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