Hi everyone and welcome. You are listening to the podcast Voices of Hope from our school in Guatemala. Our 20th year anniversary celebration is July 23 and we are celebrating by sharing the stories of the Foundation with you. Each episode will have a special guest that has been a part of our journey and success of the school! Each story will inspire you and we hope that you will learn a thing or two about our beautiful country of Guatemala.
Roxana: Hi, welcome to our 4th episode of Voices of Hope my name is Roxana. I am the communications coordinator for EFTC working with our three teams in Guatemala, the US and the UK spreading the word about our fantastic foundation and inspiring people to visit the School of Hope. Throughout this series we will be talking to people that have made the foundation possible, from students, sponsors and volunteers. Today our guest is one of our wonderful families. the Orizabal Quiná family. We will be talking to Aura, the mom of the family and her sister Olga about their experiences with the Foundation. Aura has three children that attend the School of Hope and Olga is one of our scholarship students.
Roxana: Welcome Aura and Olga, we are so happy to be talking to you today. How are you feeling?
Olga: Good afternoon, good thanks.
Aura: Good afternoon, good!
Roxana: The foundation turns 20 this year in Jocotenango, which is why we are having the party to celebrate! But we want to know, when did your family become part of the EFTC community?
Aura: Well my oldest child started in kindergarten and is now in middle school, so that would be about 8 years.
Roxana: That is a while. How did you find out about the Foundation? Who told you about it?
Aura: Our neighbors told us about it. Me and the father of my chidlren want to do everything we can to give our kids the best possible future. When Cristofer was getting ready to start kindergarten, they did an evaluation and thanks to God he was accepted into the Foundation.
Roxana: After your first child entered into the school, I imagine the Foundation gained your trust.
Aura: Exactly. Cristofer really enjoyed the school, they then accepted his little sister and brother. And that’s why all three are here.
Roxana: How was it the first time you visited the school?
Aura: When the kids start, they first attend a month in November to get used to being in school, and that was the first time we saw it.
Roxana: How would you describe the school from that first visit?
Aura: It was really pretty and big, I liked it. We had a meeting before everything officially started explaining everything, and from the beginning I liked it. I had heard from my neighbors about the quality of education. I didn’t want my kids to enter the school only for economical support, I wanted to be sure of the high quality education they provide. And from the beginning I was able to see that.
Roxana: How has the school supported you throughout all the time you have been here? What have they supported you with?
Aura: They have helped us with food hampers, which are given to us by the student’s sponsor. The sponsors also help us with clothing shopping, including a special outfit for her primary school graduation last year.
Roxana: Can you tell us a little bit about the support given throughout the pandemic?
Aura: They helped us a lot with the homework packets and with strength and support to get through it. At the beginning we didn’t know what was going to happen. I was worried because they had been receiving a good education, and now what. My son Cristofer was in 4th grade I think, and I was thinking what is going to happen during these important developmental grades for him. Is he only going to have homework packets? But luckily there was a lot of support and we got through it.
Roxana: We talked a little about how the Foundation has supported your family, can you tell us how you support the Foundation?
Aura: As a family, we are given a schedule on when we can come in and help. We are assigned a day and a task, like painting or things like that. So that’s how we support the school. Sometimes I haven't been able to come to help because of my job, but that’s when we ask our other family members to help like the kids' aunt or grandmother.
Roxana: And for you as their aunt, how have you seen the Foundation impacting your niece and nephews?
Olga: Good. I am also part of the Foundation as a scholarship student. So they also support me. Like my sister said, the educational methodologies that they use are really good. And also, they continue supporting us once we finish our education at the School of Hope up to university.
Roxana: I assume that you are also an inspiration for them and that they can also reach university in their education.
Olga: Yes. I got the opportunity to enter the Foundation in ninth grade. So only one year studying here. The education that all three kids have received has been good. And as a family we always support their education, there is me and my sister and behind us are our other family members. We are always there to support them.
Roxana: We love that you are one of our scholarship students, have brought your family into the Foundation and are now participating in our podcast. After all the time stuck at home because of the pandemic, could you tell us what it was like to hear that students could finally go back to school in person?
Aura: I was pretty happy to hear the news. I have always had to work, and during the pandemic I didn’t have someone that could watch them. With the economy I couldn’t pay anyone to babysit. Before their grandmother would watch them, I would work and pay her a little. But during the pandemic she couldn’t anymore. I was always worried because I had to leave them alone in the house with the keys. So when we heard they were going back to school I was so happy. And honestly they were bored at home, they only had television to entertain themselves. They only had a phone during the pandemic to use for emergencies and to check in during the day, not to use for fun. And they were so happy when they heard they were able to go back to school. They would tell me that their packets weren’t the same as having their teachers there helping. Their teachers have patience and understand the subjects better than I do. It was hard with the three, I would sometimes mix up their classes and packets. And I just couldn’t help them the way they needed. So we were all really happy to have them back in school. At school they use the time they have with the students to the fullest because that’s how the education program here is set up, that you just can’t replicate at home. And like I said before, these are important years and they need more academic support to get to the next level and be prepared for life after they graduate.
Roxana: I imagine you had a party at home when you heard the news that the school was opening its doors again.
Aura: Yes, we were happy even though they started with half days. It was complicated because we had to drop them off and then soon after go and pick them up. Sometimes I would think it was better for them to just be at home with their packets but then seeing how it helped their wellbeing and their mental health it was worth it even if it was only a few hours. And they got to have another space to spend their time that wasn’t just the house.
Roxana: And now it’s even better because this year we are able to provide more classes. Like art and sports and extracurricular activities.
Aura: Yes, exactly. Yesterday was their first day of school, and they were so happy to be back, with all of their new materials and teachers. They love to learn. The little one sometimes needs a little convincing and a push but they do really like it. Right now they are all excited about their classes and if they have any questions my sister is there to help them. We decided it was best to get access to the internet and my brother helped us with that. I tell the kids to investigate everything, if they have a question to look it up. That’s what the kids need.
Roxana: And you Olga, as a scholarship holder, how did you experience the return to normality?
Olga: Personally, quite well, we helped them, I spent a lot of time with them, but they also had desperation of: "Oh, I don't want to do anything", "oh, I don't know if it's right", or saying "oh, I don't understand this". So yes, it was a little complicated, but when they came it was "I learned this", "I have this". Yesterday everyone was happy, "I am going to take these courses", "tomorrow it is my physical education class, I have to take my bottle of water". The truth is that they also need to be distracted, not only to be within four walls, like at home. Living with others, because that also gives them a social aspect, which is very important.
Roxana: The foundation is very supportive of the children, from the youngest to the university students. How does it feel that the children will be able to go to university, if they decide? And to follow in their aunt's footsteps as well.
Aura: It is really good, believe me that was the part that we as parents liked, it caught our attention, because personally we were not able to study. My parents did not have the opportunity to support us in our studies, we grew up alone with my mother, so my mother gave us what she could. To study we had to work, we only got to a middle school. It was really difficult, when we heard that the foundation paid for college, we said, it is something to strive for and we always instilled in them to grab opportunities because not everyone is given that chance.
Roxana: Now I want to know, do you think that there is a before and after the foundation in your life, do you think that the foundation is making a change in your family's life?
Aura: Yes, a lot. Even though me and the father of my children both work we were not able to pay for education, and here they even provide food. We have been able to buy a little house, thank God we were able to fund it. Now everyone in the family has a little of their own space. We have pictures of before and now, for us it has been a big change.
Roxana: And now you, Olga, could you also answer the same question?
Olga: Yes, personally it opens more doors. Here they support us with the internet, with resources. I feel that the little we give is volunteering. So everything they can give us is very important. It is very difficult to get a university degree now, and those of us who have the opportunity to do so must grab it.
Roxana: Olga, you have seen how there are more opportunities now that you are studying, after high school, right?
Olga: Yes, there are more opportunities. Now they say, "Are you a university student? Yes, then they take you into account, otherwise a mid-level career would not be taken into account. One has to prepare oneself more, because a diversified career is no longer possible. They always ask for bachelor's degrees, doctorates, so you have to keep on preparing yourself every day.
Roxana: During all these years there have been several activities in the foundation, do you have any memory that makes your heart happy?
Aura: Yes, the garden was very nice, it was on Saturday, they were happy to be able to plant.
The activity they do in September is very special as well, since they give recognition to the children who make an effort. Last year I was fortunate that Natalie from sixth grade was flag bearer and Christopher from first grade was given his diploma as a high achiever.
Roxana: You are right, it is a very exciting activity, I was taking some pictures and you can see the joy of the parents when they see that the children are achieving many things, it is a very nice moment.
Aura: It is really an achievement that they make on their own, because honestly it is a lie that you are going to be behind them, that is just a support, because for the time, for the work and for so many things that you do, it is not thanks to you that they get that. I do feel very proud of my children, because I know that they have made it on their own. We support them with food, taking care of them and their clothes. But in all honesty, they obtained this achievement through their own efforts.
Roxana: Now, Olga, could you tell us about a moment that fills you with joy?
Olga: The garden too. I had the opportunity to come with them, paint their faces and see their joy. Then they cooked in the garden, because it was not the quantity, but a little piece for all the children, to be able to eat something nutritious, because everything was natural from the same harvest and from the effort of each student and each parent who came to collaborate.
Roxana: After 20 years in Jocotenango many children and young people have been part of the foundation, many have already graduated and now have good jobs. Have you seen changes in your community thanks to the foundation?
Aura: Yes, quite a few young people, as you say, have gotten good jobs and have been able to improve their homes, that is what we have seen. More than that we are living in an area where there is a risk of rain. Most of these young people get good jobs, they have been able to fix up their homes.
Roxana: How does it feel to see your children coming home from school every day?
Aura: Well, I am really happy, because my greatest wish is for them to be better people, for them to achieve what we, as their parents, could not. That they take advantage of these opportunities, that they have a good job and that they can have another kind of life.
Roxana: And how would you like to see your children in the future?
Aura: With a good job, maybe a little house that they like. They talk about having a car, Cristofer is one of the ones who goes further and he says "I want to buy a car". The girl tells me "Mom, I want to be a flight attendant and I want to take you to travel and see different places". They have dreams to reach those goals, with God's help and the foundation, I know they will achieve them.
Roxana: And you Olga, how do you see your future?
Olga: Being a graduate, working as a director or having my Educational Center, it is my dream.
Roxana: How nice, thank you for sharing this with us.
Now it is time for a special segment and you have 15 seconds to share with us something beautiful about Guatemala, something that you consider a GEM, something that you think we should all visit, it can be a place or a food that we should all try or a tradition.
Aura: The most beautiful tradition is Semana Santa, here in Antigua because of the different foods that we can enjoy during those times.
Olga: In Antigua, the streets, the churches are very beautiful and the ruins, everything about our ancestors is very beautiful.
Roxana: Thank you very much. Now we want to remind you about our special competition, share your favorite EFTC photo, tag us and you can win a School of Hope t-shirt. We will be sharing the photos on Instagram, so be sure to follow us and tag us in your post as @eftcfoundation. Families are a fundamental part of the foundation and we are fortunate to hear one of their stories today. Thank you Orizabal Quiná family for your trust and choosing Escuela La Esperanza as the Educational Center for your children.
Thank you for hearing one of our amazing stories of hope, please visit our site to sponsor a student, visit us in Guatemala or learn about what you can do to be a part of our work.