Bendición de Dios
Bendición de Dios is a secular, pre-primary through grade six school that educates the poorest children in Alotenango, who otherwise would not receive any schooling. It is NOT a school for the elite; rather it is the only alternative for families living at the global poverty level of $1.50-$2.50 a day. Yet it offers an education superior to that of public school, as evidenced by the 100 paying parents who prefer to send their children there. The school uses modern educational techniques that encourage children to think for themselves and stand on their own feet. Bendición de Dios models what the Guatemalan public school system could be.
Founder and Director
Julio Garcia is the Founder and Director of Bendición de Dios. Since its founding in 2002, under Julio Garcia's direction, the school has grown from little more than a ramshackle building with dirt floors and few supplies to the structure pictured above. Since the beginning, School Director Garcia's goal has been to help Guatemalan families break the cycle of poverty and unemployment through education. Through his vision and leadership, Asociación Bendición de Dios has been able to expand its mission and has become an educational, social, and economic resource for children and the whole village of San Juan Alotenango.
In his own words, "We offer respect and help to everyone who wants to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty and unemployment. Our ultimate purpose is to make families aware of their human dignity and power to change and shape their own lives, and also to make them realize that they can make their dreams come true."
The staff consists of mostly idealistic young teachers who work very hard for pay that is low even by Guatemalan standards. Teachers typically instruct a morning and an afternoon class of twenty-five students each at one grade level. The teachers also function as social workers who know the situation of each family. The school has an administrative staff and part-time psychologist. There are vocational programs in cooking, carpentry, and sewing. In addition to learning and playing, the students receive their best meal of the day, vitamins, and emotional support. The school's motto is "We Build Dreams Here."
Rebecca Center, founder of Under the Same Moon and a bilingual literacy coach in Framingham, spends at least a week every year providing professional development to the staff. She also assesses classroom needs to provide them with books and other materials for their classroom libraries. The students' access to books is superior to any Guatemalan public school.
For more information, visit http://www.bendiciondedios.org.