Posted on Apr 21, 2021

Elmbrook Rotary Club was not able to send a team of members, along with “friends and family,” to Guatemala this past February as it has done since 2012 because of COVID-19 issues. Instead, the club applied for a District Grant from Rotary International District 6270, representing 54 clubs in southeastern Wisconsin, to provide help for 7th grade students who are at risk of dropping out of school (now particularly difficult to deal with due to the pandemic).

Elmbrook Rotary was able to provide ten (10) LG tablets, loaded with software and internet capability, to a new “Resource Center” in a remote village. The center was designed in cooperation with Common Hope, an NGO based in the World Heritage City of Antigua. Common Hope promotes literacy and school attendance through work in housing, health, nutrition, and social services. The tablets are being used to enable contactless interventions, enabling staff to encourage students to remain in school. The technology enables working with the families to improve their circumstances and to make decisions, without the risk of in-person visits. Once the family decisions are made, the tablets can then be provided to another student, and so forth.

The issue is, and has been, economic in nature. A school-age child can be seen as an “asset” in third world areas in a country like Guatemala, being forced to work in fields to increase the family income. That leads to a cycle of poverty, which Common Hope tries to break by its efforts. Since Common Hope’s inception in Guatemala, those efforts have resulted in more than 3,000 high school graduates. The average level of school completion is roughly five years, and illiteracy in some remotely indigenous villages can be 60% or more.

For more information on how you can help, contact Elmbrook Rotarian Erik Moeser.