More Than Duct Tape

“If you give a man a fish, you’ll feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime.”

As cheesy and simplistic as this saying is, there’s a reason people have been quoting it for hundreds of years. Before coming to Guatemala in 2017, as a first-year teacher for Story International I was encouraged to read a book entitled When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself (2014, Corbett and Fikertt). The main point of the book is that by simply providing for a group of people’s needs while failing to equip them to eventually provide for their own needs is a disservice to them. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that education has the most significant and long-lasting impact on the cycle of poverty. Giving a family financial resources is only a temporary fix – duct tape on a leaky pipe that will eventually leak again. Couple that with education, for the children and the parents, and you’re not only responding to a need, but gradually equipping them to escape the strong current of cyclical poverty. Colegio Bilingue Esperanza, as a part of Story International, aims to do just that. But what exactly does that look like in Huehuetenango, Guatemala?

To start we’ll look at the big picture – the community of Huehuetenango. One of our hopes is that by supporting and restoring families in Huehue, we will eventually see a transformation in the community as a whole. The economic climate of the community here is bleak at best. Most people work multiple jobs, and even then, many of them can’t adequately provide for their families. Therefore, one of our aims as a bilingual school is to equip our students with the advantageous skill of English proficiency.

 

While our main focus is teaching our elementary students, we also host parenting classes for their families. These cover a range of topics, such as “How to Speak to our Children” and “Appropriate and Effective Discipline.” Most of our students on scholarship come from recently reunited families, so in order to prevent them from being separated again, we want to equip the parents with helpful knowledge regarding child development and biblically sound discipline. While these classes are a requirement for parents who have been recently reunified with their children, we were overjoyed to have almost every parent at the school attend the first class. It is our hope that with this knowledge the families at our school would not only stay together, but flourish.

 

Now let’s zoom in and take a look at how we support the immediate needs of some of the families at our school. We offer the following to the families of our students on scholarship:

 

  • Free tuition
  • Free school supplies
  • Free lunch for the kids after school
  • Free after-school care for children whose parents work

 

Our hope is to help families “get back on their feet” long enough to reach a place where they no longer need our assistance.

 

I’ve covered the logistics of our ministry, but more important than finances or education is our hope to spark a revival in Huehuetenango. We want our students to know Jesus, through our bible classes as well as our living example. We want to extend the love of Jesus to them and their families. We want to partner with people here who are craving transformation. At Colegio Bilingue Esperanza, we want to be part of raising up a community ignited by the flames of Jesus’ love. Will you help us?