All»Guatemala-El Nahual Language Centre

Guatemala-El Nahual Language Centre

Project Name:El Nahual Community Education Center
Date Posted:26/03/2009
Address:27 Avenida 8-68
Quetzaltenango, Xela

Commitment:Three weeks minimum, but longer term prefered
Type Of Work:Volunteers needed to teach English, Basic Spanish, art, and/or music in our free educational programs for local children and adults. Additional
volunteer opportunities include working in our organic community garden and helping us build a new and improved community education center.
Required Skills:Spanish language skills prefered but not essential
Costs:No fees to volunteer. We offer homestays with Guatemalan family for $50 (including three meals a day). Volunteers can also opt to find their own accommodation, which is very cheap in Xela (share houses and hostel rooms available for about $110-150 a month)
Contact Person:Oliver Jacques
Email:    (Note: email address is tripple protected from spammers.)
Additional Info:El Nahual is an educational community center that is almost completely funded by its non-profit Spanish school. Located in a beautiful town surrounded by lush mountains and volcanoes, we offer educational programs to some of the poorest communities in the area.

El Nahual´s exists to improve the lives of Guatemalans, more specifically those living within and around the community of Pacája, some of the most marginalized within the city of Quetzaltenango. Whilst working across a number of projects and age groups throughout the community, our primary focus can be said to concern improving upon the underfunded and neglected Guatemalan state education system. The project numbers are constantly increasing as we try to better serve the needs of these distinctive communities, but those in existence at the moment include:

Manos de Colores - El Nahual : this is a free after school program from 3-5pm every week day based within the main Pacája building. Volunteers give classes in English, art and music to local children from the ages of 5-16 (this is the age range in today). These are subjects that are completely unavailable to the kids in the underfunded public schools of Guatemala, and considered financially prohibitive within many of their families. There are also classes given by a Guatemalan member of staff in mathematics and Spanish language, these act as a top up to classes given in regular school.

Manos de Colores - La Cuchilla: this is also a free afternoon program, but located in another deprived area, the semi-rural community of La Cuchilla on the outskirts of Quetzaltenango. At this location we offer volunteer led classes in art and English between the ages of 5 and 13, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Manos de Colores - Canton Candelaria: This is a public school in a rural area 45 minutes bicycle ride from Pacája. The community is very impoverished, suffering badly from male depopulation due to migration to the USA, facilities in the school are rudimentary and stretched. Here we give English, PE and art classes, to kids between the ages of 4 and 16. These ages are spread across 6 different classes but tend to merge towards the top ends as more kids leave formal education. We are also involved in the construction of new buildings at the school, taking the place of families who can neither afford to pay the wages of a workman nor can provide an adult male to work on the site.

Manos de Colores - Tele Secondaria: This is a public school five minutes walk from El Nahual in Pacája. The school is known as Tele Secondaria, because in the place of salaried teachers for each different subject the director invested in one teacher and televisions and video recorders for each grade. This is how the different classes are taught, by video. Our volunteers offer English across six classes one day a week for around 190 students between the ages of 11 and 17. Our volunteers also run an out of hours drama scheme for kids from this school

Manos de Colores de Adultos: This scheme runs from within El Nahual on Saturdays from 7:00am until 18:00. The Saturday school allows those over the age of fourteen who have left the Guatemalan education system for whatever reason, most usually to enter the workforce, to gain the primary education certificate that would otherwise be denied to them through government funded routes. The classes are taught by two Guatemalan staff and assisted by volunteers who teach an English class.

Mujeres de El Nahual: This is a scheme to create a sense of community amongst the women of Pacája, what started as a small organic agricultural project, run from the school and worked by local women has developed. We have just started a cookery course, allowing the women to join a community that we´re attempting to build around El Nahual in a way that isn´t threatening to them and their families, whilst also working towards the final goal of a self-sustaining economic co-operative at the end of the course. Plans are being developed for further adult education courses along these same lines, most leading to an economically viable cooperative. There is also a bike repair shop in El Nahual that acts as a focus for practical education.

Padrinos de Colores: Whilst the Guatemalan government is constitutionally bound to provide a free education to it´s citizens there are a number of hidden costs (such as books, uniforms, registration fees etc) estimated at around $2-300/year (US), that lead to many children from the poorest of families dropping out of school. As such we run a "godparents" scheme whereby groups or individuals from abroad as well as El Nahual itself, pays $200/year towards these necessities, thereby allowing some 25 local kids who would otherwise not be able to, to go to school here in Xela.

From October of 2007 there will be a cooperative of 30 teenagers run from El Nahual. Within Tele Secondaria, there are a number of teenagers who can´t afford to continue their education. Through El Nahual, they will receive an hour of extra classes, and an hour of assisted personal study a day. Following this they will work within small groups to produce products that they can sell to provide their cooperative with the funds, not only to expand, but also to permit the continued education of its membership. El Nahual will provide the teens with the initial capital, the location to work from and the extra education opportunity as well as offering guidance and advice to the nascent cooperative. We are currently looking to recruit a voluntary coordinator for these cooperative schemes.

There are plans to extend the role of El Nahual within the communities of Candelaria and La Cuchilla, by adding a salaried Guatemalan teacher to the Manos de Colores staff in these locations to provide reinforcement classes in Spanish language and mathematics.

There have also been any number of miscellaneous acts through which we try to help the community, such as running health fairs in the centre, providing free dental check-ups to the kids, medicine for a family who couldn´t afford it etc.