- We have purchased a residence in Guatemala City closer to work for our graduates. The house is in a safe neighborhood, only 20-30 minutes from work, instead of the often 2 hours they had been traveling each way. This will give them some 18 hours per week to attend university in the future or simply have a life.
- We are now working with another employer, which is growing by 25% in 2017. This should give more opportunity to our graduates the end of this year and Lesvia is now working at full bi-lingual pay, which she was not able to do with the previous employer.
- The English Angel program has become fundamental to the motivation and success of the girls. Our volunteers often mention how they are noticeably improving each week. Living in the house where they can practice, have supporting materials and the help of their English Angel has made a huge difference. Our wonderful housemother, Dora, continues to grow as a person, taking on more of running the house and equipment. She says: “teach me”.
- A permanent residence for Spirit; the benefits are studying, supporting and practicing English together. We learned through 22 months that being together during the week means enormous improvement in these areas.
- English taught by one of our own. Without a doubt, Sildi has better pronunciation than any local teacher. (Her school English teachers try to avoid her questions). She has the heart of a teacher; encouraging, patient and sometimes demanding. She knows her students weaknesses and strengths.
- Distant Applicants: we are now able to offer the program to girls farther than a daily bus ride. Through a partnership with FundAP, working to provide education for primary and middle school levels, we started with three of their girls. All three are Mayan, which was a concern, as cultures don’t mix very well in Guatemala.
For many years now, we have had incredible harmony and an amazingly supportive ambiance of sisters helping sisters. I was not 100% sure that this would continue with the added dimension of cultural diversity.
Our existing girls have great empathy for these new girls who won’t be able to go home until Easter. They were enfolded into the group and have recovered remarkably from the extreme homesickness of the first week. They work as a team of friends.
2015: AN AMAZING JOB OFFER
In January, Pam and Cesia visited Allied Global in Guatemala City. Human Resources director, Liliana Ortiz was very excited about our program and girls. She came to Coatepeque in April to meet the girls and tell about her employment opportunity to those who can learn sufficient English. Her benefits include:
- $575 starting salary with bonus with possible $775 by the end of the first year, instead of the $150-250 for graduates in Coatepeque
- Social Security and medical benefits
- Shorter work days: 7 hours instead of 10
- Discounted university education
Alejandra wants our girls and the girls are working hard to learn English so they can apply. To make this happen, the Spirit house is essential! They can’t practice English in the villages.
Due to this opportunity, we have shifted our program emphasis. A call center job is a definite job, due to demand, for those who can become fluent in English.
Four girls were invited to visit their training center in Guatemala City as if they were students. Our girls came away believing they had or could reach the required level before January 2016 when they start the training and their future. They are busily improving rapidly and are role models for the younger girls.
“Distinguished Friend of Coatepeque”
Spirit’s work was acknowledged by an act of the Coatepeque City council. Pam was given the honor as “Distinguished Friend of Coatepeque”, although without the effort of a huge group of people in the US the work would not have been possible.
Our 10th anniversary, parent attendance was mandatory. It was optional in subsequent reunions. All parents come! The clear message was that parents wanted to be more a part of the process. During the general meeting, I spoke of individual girl’s progress and problems. Two new lawyers came and spoke of the benefit in their lives.