Panabaj is a small village on Lake Atitlan just outside the city of Santiago. On October 4, 2005, torrential rains from hurricane Stan caused massive mud slides down the face of the volcano next to the village. Over 1,000 people died and the village was buried under volcanic mud, rock and debris. Most of the people live in temporary housing in a field adjacent to the village as it is slowly being rebuilt. The hospital, school and police station were destroyed. The families are still struggling even after almost three years and many children are not going to school.
Program: In the midst of this tragedy, a Baptist pastor who grew up in this community has taken a leadership role in helping minister to those affected by the crisis. Pastor Diego has partnered with Orphan Outreach to create a private Christian School in his church to meet the needs of many of the children who do not have access to education. The school opened its doors in January 2009 as a preschool and elementary (Kindergarten, Prepa, First and Second) with approximately 120 students.
Good Shepherd Christian Academy
It is about an hour boat ride across the volcanic lake Attilan to get to the city of Santiago – a small village of approximately 37,000 people who are mostly Maya Tzutujiil. This area was devastated by the mudslides caused by hurricane Stan in October 2005 which left thousands homeless and many buried under the mud and rock. Pastor Diego ministers in this community where he grew up and is now the pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Church. His heart’s desire is meeting the needs of the community and he has a passion that is contagious.
In 2007, we began discussions with him about his vision to develop a school in his church that would meet the needs of vulnerable children he serves in the community. This January that school became a reality and now have about 130 students for some of the poorest children in Santiago and Panabaj. Orphan Outreach has provided financial assistance for remodeling the church to meet school standards. We also provide scholarship support for the neediest students and have provided computers for the computer lab at the school.
My most recent visit was very exciting. We were able to see the students in class and getting a quality Christian education. The students are taught and mentored by very dedicated staff and you can see the result of their work in the faces of the children. Several of these students come from homes that our volunteers have built for their families.
You can see the joy in Diego’s face when he walks around the school reflecting on his childhood and the obstacles he faced educationally. His family was extremely poor as he lost his father when he was very young during the civil war in Guatemala. He knows firsthand how important education is and that these children will never break the cycle of poverty without a quality education.
Diego needs more resources to continue this dream for the children he serves. He needs about $20,000 more support this year to finish paying for renovations and for operational expenses. This school is such a blessing for a community that has suffered so much and continues to struggle with the aftermath of the hurricane. It is a privilege for Orphan Outreach to serve alongside Pastor Diego and his congregation as they reach out to the community with the love of Christ.
You can help Orphan Outreach and Good Shepherd Christian Academy meet the educational needs of their students in 2009:
There are a total of 128 students from Prepa to 4th grade (Two Prepa classes, One first grade class, One second grade class, One third grade class, and One fourth grade class)
Scholarships for 30 children
$30 a month (or $360 a year)
Staff and school bills $10,000-12,000 to pay teachers for the remaining school year
(includes 10 teacher's salaries, 1 Principal's salary, 1 janitor’s salary,
school’s maintenance and internet expenses).
Renovation of 4th floor computer lab $5,754.00
Nine surge protectors for 15 computers and 2 printers $ 103.00
The Good Shepherd Baptist School in Santiago, Guatemala will begins their very first school year on Monday, January 19th. There are 130 children from kindergarten to 4th grade registered to begin school on Monday. Pray for the funding necessary to provide scholarships to 30 children living in Panabaj, a community left devastated by a mudslide in 2005.
Gloria Caceres, the Guatemala Coordinator for Orphan Outreach, led a group of four volunteers to Santiago to distribut the new school supplies. "The children’s parents were very blessed to see their children getting their school supplies," said Caceres. "Several mothers approached us to thank us for the helped. Some of them were crying and said they were very touched by us because they never thought they would be able to send their children to a private Christian school. The teachers were anxious to see the computers and to distribute the school supplies to their children."
October 2007 - Community of Santiago and Panabaj
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Your commitment to travel with Orphan Outreach allows the children we serve to know they are not forgotten. In ministering to these children you become the hands and feet of Christ and profoundly impact their lives as well as your own.
Infant Mortality Rate total:
29.77 deaths/1,000 live births
Population below poverty line: 56.2% (2004)
Est. # people living with HIV/AIDS:
61,000; 0.9% adult (15-49) prevalence rate (2005)
Unemployment rate: 3.2% (2005)
Literacy Rate (age 15 + can read & write):
69.1% total population
Estimated 370,000 children (0-17)
Type of Government: Representative democracy
Language(s): Spanish (60%); Amerindian languages (40%)
Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and indigenous Mayan beliefs
Guatemala is located in Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Caribbean Sea between Honduras and Belize.
UNICEF estimates that there are more than 370,000 orphans in Guatemala and at least 5,000 children live on the streets of the capital, abandoned by mothers who are too poor to keep them.
Only 24 percent of the population attends Secondary school (1996-2005).
Only 58 percent of municipalities have a secondary school.
Five out of 10 students who enter primary school in urban areas complete primary school, as opposed to only two out of 10 in rural areas.
Some 67 percent of indigenous children suffer from chronic malnutrition.
27 percent of all children under 5 are underweight.
The distribution of income remains highly unequal with about 56% of the population below the poverty line.
The indigenous population, the Maya, make up about half of the population. Mayan languages are spoken alongside Spanish, the official tongue. Many Guatemalans are of mixed Amerindian-Hispanic origin.
Guatemalans live in one of the most inequitable societies in the region. Poverty is particularly widespread in the countryside and among indigenous communities. Illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition are among the highest in the region, life expectancy is among the lowest and, in common with many of its neighbors, the country is plagued by organized crime and violent street gangs.
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