Welcome to our second Los Niños Newsletter of 2013. We have got so much to tell you!.
Dutch embassy closed.
The Dutch embassy in Guatemala closed its doors this past June 30th, with Dutch citizens in Guatemala now having to depend largely on the embassy in Costa Rica. We do have a consulate now in Guatemala with Rob Vergoossen as honorary consul. For Rob and his colleagues it will be a pleasure to receive you at the consulate. The phone number of the consulate is (00502) 6634-5586 and its website www.holaguate.com
The young life of Angelito in San Mateo.
Six years ago, after 6 months of pregnancy, a little boy called Angelito (‘little angel') was born. No one expected he would live long. His mom, hard to believe, was only twelve years old. You must wonder how she got pregnant? That is a question we should ask the priest in town. Everybody in the village knows that he is the father, and he still preaches every Sunday in church. Unbelievable. It was an emotional initiative of director Lys of the project Semilla Esperanza y Amor to include Angelito in her project. He could not walk nor talk and cried almost all the time. But then volunteer Edoardo Toledo from Italy came. In a few months and with much patience and love he managed to make Angelito walk with support, laugh regularly and even talk a bit. He takes part in the classes at school and has recently received a wheelchair that was especially made for him and that he can move himself around in independently. This was a donation from an organization that makes wheelchairs. In the pictures you see Angelito in his old, borrowed wheelchair and in his new wheelchair.
Victims are afraid to testify again in the Ríos Montt case.
On June 10th the following article was published in the newspaper.
Efraín Ríos Montt, the former dictator of Guatemala, was sentenced on May 10th by the judge in his country to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity. Human rights organization Amnesty International called the process ''the case of the decennium''. But a few weeks later the Constitutional Court voided the sentence. A new case likely starts in April next year. During the dictatorship of Ríos Montt the army committed genocide in rural villages. At least 1771 people were killed, at least 1485 girls were raped and 29.000 people had to flee their homes, the indictment read.
With his conviction last month, the court judged that Ríos Montt held absolute power from March 1982 till August 1983 because of which he had complete knowledge of the committed crimes and that he did not prevent those from happening. It cost many years of accompaniment to help the victims overcome their fear to testify, says CALDH-spokesperson José Rodríguez. More than half of them has stated they don't want to testify a second time as they fear that they will be put under pressure.
Cooperation with CasaSito Foundation.
Through the financial support that Los Niños provides to CasaSito many young people are able to benefit from educational scholarships. We provide the funds and CasaSito runs the program - monitoring the students' performance and their motivation to keep studying. In January 2013 the founder of CasaSito - Alice Lee - passed over the reins of leadership, ten years after starting the foundation. The new Executive Director is Maritza Ortiz, who was born in Puerto Rico and who lived for many years in the United States. Alice has been training her over the past 2 years so that the transition takes place smoothly. Alice will stay closely involved with everything that happens with CasaSito as the treasurer of the foundation and as contact person for several organizations that support CasaSito financially.
The photo shows Maritza on my right, to my left is Manuela Rosales, the chair of the CasaSito Foundation and also the lawyer of CasaSito and Los Niños. The other picture shows Alice.
Good news from Alotenango.
In 2006 Coco became the figurehead of Los Niños, he was ten years old then and is still to be found on Los Niños' letterhead with a small dog in his hands.
During a work visit to elementary school Melanjoco in Alotenango, Ana-Maria suddenly heard behind her someone say in a low voice "Hola seño Ana-Maria". There was Coco. His laugh has not changed but everything else has. He's become a true young man. In October he will graduate from high school and turns 18.
Thanks to a scholarship he can continue to study in 2014 to become a teacher - a further 3 years of study. Every day he talks for half an hour on the local radio about the many things that keep him busy.
The mission of the school director, Julio Garcia, is to see all the children from kindergarten through school to when they graduate with a technical grade. This is an aim that Los Niños wholeheartedly supports and hopes that he manages to achieve this with a big group of children.
Sad news from Alotenango.
On June 8th 2013, one of the students Denilson passed away at the age of 11. He was part of class 6 and had cancer. The month before he died he was already too weak to go to school. In small groups his classmates visited him frequently and always talked about him at school. On Saturday June 9th, all of his classmates were present at the funeral. Denilson is leaving a brother and his parents behind. Los Niños gave financial support for the funeral.
Also on June 9th the father of two girls from class 2 and 3 was buried. He had had stomach problems for a while and went too late to see the doctor (likely because of lack of money) and then couldn't be cured anymore. He was 57 years old. Los Niños also gave financial support for this funeral.
What will I be when I grow up.
This question is very important if you attend elementary school and you had better start thinking about it fairly early on. The elementary school in Alotenango dedicated a week to this topic and the children could write and draw what they would like to be. No doubt there were many children who wanted to become a teacher, but also a doctor, veterinarian, mason, soldier, chef, cake maker and nurse.
Mothers day in Chimachoy.
Every school in Guatemala celebrates mother's day, including in the high school in Chimachoy.
The teachers were responsible for the food and making the mother's day gift - a beautiful vase that was painted by the students. Volunteer Stephan van Gorp worked there for 2 months and he has made a beautiful photo collection. He thought it was a very special experience.
Click on the photo to open the photoalbum.
Goodbye from our colleague Christel Tinselboer.
Christel has said about her time in Guatemala with Los Niños:
“An unforgettable time...11 years in Guatemala!
‘there is a time to come and a time to go'
The big adventure started for me back in 2002 when I came to Guatemala to learn Spanish, do volunteer work and of course travel around. I quickly picked up Spanish, the volunteer work filled my days with pleasure, fun and satisfaction. Traveling completed everything my first experience in Central America. In one word "overwhelming".
In this time I also met my Guatemalan boyfriend, who 11 years later is the sweetest dad for my two lovely children.
A lot has happened during these 11 years. I worked as an English and Dutch teacher, set up a Montessori School and worked for the last three years with Los Niños Foundation. All beautiful experiences.
In this time I have met great and heartwarming people, whom I will miss tremendously. They all have a special place in my heart. And that place will stay there and travel with me wherever I go. .
The beautiful Guatemala with its beautiful volcanoes, the colorful streets, the hard working people, the varied food and not to forget the ‘chicken buses'. The country that I have come to love and the roots of my husband and children. The country that I cherish. I will miss it.
No, we won't forget this beautiful time and for sure we will come back. But now we have taken the step to return to beautiful Holland. The education opportunities for our children are the main reason. Our children come first and we want to be able to give them the best. Also security plays an important role in our decision to raise our children in the Netherlands.
I have found a job in advanced special education where I can use my experiences in educating. A nice challenge!
I want to wholeheartedly thank Ana-Maria and the boards in the Netherlands and Guatemala for the opportunity I got to do this fantastic work. Thanks for the support, the trust and the chance to work together. Also I want to thank the project leaders for their cooperation, the volunteers for their efforts and friendships and not to forget the fantastic colleagues, that I suddenly got when we started to cooperate with CasaSito.
Muchas gracias y un abrazo fuerte a todos! Hasta luego!
We're starting a new adventure... Holland here we come!”
Ana-Maria is very happy for Christel that she found a good job in the Netherlands and that her children can get a better future there but as colleague she is very sad that Christel won't be around anymore to support her!
Muchas gracias Christel for all your hard work and we wish you lots of success.
Thanks to the cooperation with CasaSito, Ana-Maria can count on support from colleagues in CasaSito from August.
Christel en Ana-Maria