JustWorld International is devoted to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding local partners around the world helping children thrive. A group of Ambassadors recently went to visit one JustWorld’s partner projects, Los Patojos, in Guatemala. During this trip, they experienced firsthand what it is like to be a student at Los Patojos.
Our first day started with seeing the old school, listening to Juan Pablo’s stories of how it all started, the challenges and anecdotes, as he lead us through his home and then to the new community center. Here in their new center, JustWorld finances the education program, a medical clinic and community kitchen, and leadership and cultural development activities such as journalism, break dancing, ballet, and photography classes.
Ambassadors spent the morning helping students working on academic lessons on spelling and writing with first graders, and color and shape recognition with preschool-aged children. Sophie Simpson, a JustWorld Ambassador, said that watching the thrill the young children received from putting together a 20 piece puzzle seems like fun and games, but in reality it is the basis for them to learn how to problem solve.
While some Ambassadors spent the morning in a classroom, Geoffrey Hesslink and André Mershad worked in the kitchen to prepare more than 200 meals for lunch. It is near impossible for children to go to school, pay attention, and learn if they are hungry. Therefore, Los Patojos provides breakfast and lunch for all of their students which are nutritious and filling so theyare able to be productive and progress.
After lunch everyone gathered together for group activities. The Ambassadors split up, some went to arts and crafts, some to the courtyard for games, and others to the auditorium for dance. Tatianna Verswyvel led a group of students to the auditorium for a dance lesson where they taught one another a choreographed dance; Mitch Endicott went to the courtyard to play jump rope and tag with a group of boys; and Kira Kerkorian made beaded bracelets with another group. Juan Pablo, founder of Los Patojos, has explained that having a creative outlet is essential. Being able to have a safe and nonjudgmental environment to sing, dance, and paint will only encourage students to peruse their creative interests and make them a life long hobby or even a career.
All of the skills learned at Los Patojos are designed to help the children and youth in the future and aid in providing better life. Everything from math and science, to art and music, will expand their knowledge and increase their quality of life. For example, the next day when JustWorld went back to Los Patojos, students were waiting by the door behind a table to sell bracelets that they had made themselves. Although it is a fun activity, it is a glimpse of what the future may possibly look like. The children are already learning the skills involved with creating an item and selling it. With multiple children working at the bracelet stand they were also learning how to work as a team to accomplish a goal. All of these activities and skills that Los Patojos is providing and teaching their students will give them more opportunities to succeed and see their dreams become realities.
Interested in going on the next trip in July? Click here for details!