Hello, my name is Emilia, I am currently studying in Rotterdam, and I was able to join the Dutch Niños de Guatemala team. I hope to help the NGO through fundraising and writing this blog to give insights into the organization and the schools in Guatemala. I would like to start by telling how I got in touch with NDG:
My experience with Niños de Guatemala started when I was planning my Gap year in 2019. I just graduated from Highschool and I decided that I wanted to travel to South and Central America to volunteer, learn Spanish and get to know the different cultures. I quickly found a travel agency which provided me with information for various volunteer programs. Through them I found Niños de Guatemala. I immediately fell in love with the idea of working in a local school as it would give me the unique opportunity to improve my Spanish by talking to children and at the same time being able to do something useful. It was very important to me that I could actually contribute to a meaningful cause that was not just designed for tourists. With Niños de Guatemala, I was definitely not disappointed!
Once I arrived in Guatemala, I had a meeting with the organization in Antigua. In the beautiful office space, I received an extensive introduction to the program, followed by a tour around the city and the various schools just outside of Antigua. I was going to volunteer at the “Nuestro Futuro” school which was attended by children aged 5 to 12. On my first day one of the employees of NDG helped me and another girl to take the bus to Ciudad Vieja where the school was located. I remember my first day of volunteering as an amazing experience since I was warmly welcomed by the teachers as well as the children who gave their best effort to talk to me even though my Spanish was far from perfect. I was astonished by how well the whole school was organized and the teachers and school psychologist made sure that the individual needs of every child were met.
My tasks were mainly located around making sure that the children brushed their teeth in the morning when they arrived, helping to prepare a snack for everyone at recess and assisting the teacher in class to make sure all the kids understood what was being taught. As I was helping with the youngest classes “Pre-kinder” and “Kinder”, most of the lessons revolved around spelling, adding and drawing. I had a lot of fun helping the children studying as most of them were eager to learn and even more eager to tell me everything about their lives and their friends. There really wasn’t one boring minute
I found it remarkable how the school was able to directly contribute to its community through providing education for all children. It is such a solid concept that doesn’t allow children to fall behind and also holds the parents accountable for making sure their children attend classes every day. The parents had to bring their children to school in the morning and had to pick them up in the afternoon which gave teachers the chance to talk about each child individually to make sure that they can take the most out of every school day. I also had the opportunity to talk to a few mothers who came in every day to help prepare a snack for the children and it was amazing to be able to see that they really appreciated the education that their children received.
Sadly, during my time in Guatemala the schools had to close due to the corona virus and I had to return to Germany. However, I was truly amazed by the organization and I will try my best to continue to contribute.