Dear Friend of Natik,
Warmest seasons greetings! On behalf of Natik, we want you to know how much we appreciate your support for our work tackling the educational and economic disparities in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico. From building the Yo’onik Education Center to our newest project, the Ruk’ux Immersion Program, your support has provided opportunities for education and empowerment, which are the keys to breaking generational cycles of poverty and marginalization.
You are part of our extended international family, and at this time of reflection, we wanted to share stories of the programs and people we work with.
Do you remember that feeling of excitement at the beginning of each school year? Hundreds of thousands of youth in Guatemala and Chiapas lose that thrill — and the opportunity to learn — after only a few years because families cannot afford the expense sending their children to school.
We are grateful that, because of loyal support from donors like you, the Natik Scholarship Program has helped us sponsor dozens of middle school, high school, and university students. Dolores, a Tz’utujil Mayan woman who has been a visionary leader for the Guatemalan scholarship program from the beginning, recently shared with us that all of our scholarship students are being honored for their academic accomplishments, and are being selected for leadership positions in their schools.
- $50 – A student for a month
- $250 – A student for half a school year
- $500 – A student for one full school year
These bright students are also taking their skills into the real world. The scholarship program graduates have been working diligently with us to establish Ruk’ux, a new Spanish language and cultural immersion program.
Ruk’ux is an entrepreneurial venture that the students are building using the skills they have learned at their technical high schools, and it will help them finance their university studies. Send an email to learn more! firstname.lastname@example.org
- $50 – One student for one month
- $250 – One student for half a school year
- $500 – One student for one full school year
The Puerta Abierta’s Traveling Library Program also continues to thrive. Isaías, the head librarian, is inspiring. You probably have memories of someone who read aloud to you when you were a child, who inspired you to read those stories for yourself.
Isaias reads aloud to hundreds of children, adolescents, and seniors in and around Santiago Atitlán. His animated renditions of storybook characters make his visits the highlight of the week for both students and teachers. His sparkling personality is balanced by a sharp mind that has helped build solid pedagogy. With the support of donors like you, the team’s teacher’s curriculum is now being shared with educators in communities through-out Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán region — we just hope we can find more librarians like Isaias.
- $25 – A book bag for the Traveling Library
- $100 – A month of “Mommy and Me” classes for 20 mothers and 20 children
- $500 – A half school year of visits from The Traveling Library for one school
- $1000 – A full year of visits from The Traveling Library for one school
To the north in Zinacantán, Chiapas, children come to Yo’onik Community Education Center for educational programs and tutoring. Many parents in Zinacantán speak indigenous languages and cannot help with Spanish language homework; without additional help, students would be left behind.
The young students are enjoying their lessons, although we suspect their older tutors — our high school and university scholarship students — are enjoying them just as much. If you have ever tutored younger students who were struggling in school and watched them learn and grow, then you know the joy these tutors feel as they help their younger peers stay in school. We were recently excited to hear that Gabriel, a high-spirited seven year old who has participated in the Yo’onik After School Enrichment program for the past four years, is now two years ahead of his age group in reading comprehension.
- $50 – A package of books for the library
- $100 – A two-month study stipend for a Zinacantan youth
- $500 – A substantial contribution towards the completion of the kitchen
Last but not least, we should mention the women in the artisan collective, Mujeres Sembrando la Vida (Women Sowing Life). The artisans in the collective — who work from home using the same traditional weaving and embroidery techniques as their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers — sell their products on the global market for a fair wage.
Dedicated to the well-being of the entire community, a percentage of the profit subsidizes the Yo’onik Community Education Center. Under the leadership of the Hernandez sisters, Xunka and Yoli, the Mujeres Sembrando la Vida artisans have successfully fulfilled orders for Mexican hotels and department stores and have expanded their capacity so they can compete in global markets. If you would like to see their work, visit their Etsy page at www.etsy.com/shop/NatikEsperanza.
There is no substitute for the personal on the ground support Natik offers our students and partners — nor is there a substitute for your support. This holiday season, please join us in enabling our partners to improve their lives and their communities through educational and economic empowerment.