Westlake UMC works with two NGO’s(non-government organizations) in Guatemala, “Let’s Be Ready,” and “People for Guatemala.”
“Let’s Be Ready,” a group of native Mayans and American volunteers opens PreK and Kindergarten classes in rural, outlying Mayan villages. Its goal is to prepare children for the first grade. About 40% of the Mayan children from rural areas enter the public schools with no preparation, and consequently, fail and do not return to school. All LBR teachers are trained by U. S. master teachers, and local retired Guatemalan teachers . Fred Zambrowski, the director and founder, is a volunteer, receiving no compensation. Westlake UMC began its mission in Guatemala five years ago by sponsoring a class in San Juan del Obispo. The teacher, Lucy Diaz, has since been promoted to the teacher training program where she writes curriculum and is part of the training team. We continue to sponsor her in her new work. Members of the Mission Team have visited schools in a number of remote villages. We are also active in donating books and other teaching materials.
“People for Guatemala” is a NGO that sponsors a wide range of services in the San Martin area. WUMC’s main connection with them is donating Chapina stoves to replace the open fires that the women use for cooking. All PFG employees are native Mayans, and the directors and founders are volunteers who receive no compensation. The Chapina stove was developed by an employee of PFG. Families requesting one must agree to be trained in the care of the stove and share part of the cost. Members of our Mission Team have visited with families who have requested a stove and families who have received a stove. They have attended training workshops, and seen stoves installed in remote villages. Each Advent season, WUMC members donate money towards the purchase of the stoves. To date, we have donated more than 40 stoves. PFG has installed more than 500 stoves.
A Mayan woman and her daughter cooking in a typical kitchen. She will receive a Chapina Stove through the Christmas donations of the Westlake UMC. These stoves are more fuel efficient, eliminate the smoke from the open fire, and improve the health of women and children. March, 2015.
Jo Parker, member of the Mission Team, visits in the kitchen of one of the women who will receive a Chapina Stove through the Christmas donations of our congregation. The stoves eliminate the smoke from the open fire, require less wood, and greatly improve the health of women and children who spend much time in smoked- filled kitchens.
Village men and staff of People for Guatemala put finishing touches on kitchen donated by Jerry and Donna McGee of Houston. Village mothers will cook the nutritious snack donated by the government for the children in the elementary school. Before the new kitchen, the mothers cooked in a lean-to over a fire built on the ground. The McGee’s and Jo Parker, member of the Mission Team, spent three days in the village, helping to construct the kitchen. March, 2015.
Cerrito Alto School
Parents gather at Cerrito Alto School to celebrate with Let’s Be Ready sponsors and staff the dedication of the new school in their village. March, 2015. Jo Parker of the Mission Team represented our church.
Donna McGee and Lucy Diaz, the teacher Westlake UMC supports, visit with a new teacher at Cerrito Alto School, March, 2015.