Giving Hope to the Future through Education

    Mission & Philosophy
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"Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: If you are alive, it's not."
                                                                                           - Richard Bach

Our Mission
To improve the quality of and access to education in Guatemala, and cultivate interconnectedness between the peoples of Guatemala and the United States.

Our Rationale

Guatemala has been identified as one of the poorest and most economically disparate countries in the Western Hemisphere. As it now recovers from nearly four decades of civil war and military repression, Guatemala still finds approximately 60% of its population living in poverty and lacking basic functional literacy. This situation is especially pronounced in its rural areas where illiteracy and extreme poverty (the inability to meet minimum daily caloric needs) impacts up to 85% of the population.

While the education system has shown some improvement over the last ten years, most rural schools still find themselves significantly under-funded and unable to purchase even the most basic educational materials and equipment for their students and teachers. In addition, there is an increasing desire from teachers for professional training in the use of instructional methods that increase student understanding, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Officially, public education is to be available to all Guatemalan children, but it is not mandatory and the costs of school fees, books, uniforms and other school supplies are expected to be paid for by the student's family. Frequently, these expenses are beyond the means of many Guatemalan families which results in large numbers of children, if they attend school at all, not continuing beyond the third grade. In addition, those children who do attend school often lack the home support systems to help them to be successful in school. Since many of the children's parents are unable to read or write and have had little access to formal education themselves, there is often a need for the provision of additional after school support so that students may receive help with their schoolwork and study skills. (For a more in-depth analysis of Guatemala's current educational system, please see our section on Education in Guatemala.)

The programs developed and administered by Avivara are a concrete response to these situations and are designed to not only improve the quality of education in Guatemala on a school by school, community by community basis, but also to provide financial support to those willing and capable students who wish to continue their education on to the secondary level. 

Finally, our reality is that we exist in an interconnected world. Therefore, we feel that it is very important for people from the most powerful and prosperous nations of the world to gain a greater understanding of and empathy for the daily realities of the two-thirds of the world's population who live in poverty. Our communications with the general public are designed to provide information to help others achieve greater understanding of the global community in which they live, and increase their knowledge, skills and commitment as advocates for positive social change. In addition, our School-to-School Partnership Program provides opportunities for students in both Guatemala and the United States to communicate with and learn from one another, thus increasing global awareness and understanding.
For a more comprehensive description of Guatemala's current economic situation and the historical and political factors that have contributed to that reality, please click on the link below:

Volunteers in Santa Maria de Jesus
Volunteers in Santa Maria de Jesus
Our Core Belief
Throughout the world many people live under the combined burdens of poverty, violence, environmental degradation and injustice. However, we believe that those conditions are correctable when people of goodwill commit to learning and working together to provide educational opportunities that increase knowledge and understanding, and empower communities and individuals to be dynamic agents of positive social change.

"If you assume there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is the possibility that you can contribute to making a better world. That's your choice."
                                                        - Noam Chomsky

Our Philosophy
We have witnessed the efforts (and effects, both positive and negative) of many well intentioned people and projects in Guatemala. From our experience, we have seen that those projects which have created the most sustainable and positive changes for Guatemala are also those that maintain the greatest respect for the culture, history and perspectives of the Guatemalan people. For that reason, our project has consciously adopted a philosophy where we do not promote or impose any particular ideological, religious, educational or technological solutions upon the people of Guatemala. Instead, our main work is to listen to the needs expressed by the teachers, students and communities that we serve, and then seek out resources to help them take the next step in their development. This from the ground up approach is one which we feel best serves the people of Guatemala and is the best possible utilization of the money that is contributed to our programs.

Student from Santa Maria de Caque
Guatemalan mother making breakfast
While we deeply believe in this philosophy of empowering the people we serve, we are also quite realistic about how, where and when our contributions are distributed to the schools, students and communities that we support. Because we have limited resources, we are committed to investing those resources in ways that will have a maximum positive impact. Therefore, we carefully select the schools we support based on the level of poverty within the community, teacher energy and concern for student well-being, administrative leadership, and community commitment to education.

In distributing our scholarships, we evaluate the academic history of the student, his or her commitment to ongoing education, and the family's desire for their child to continue his or her education. This approach helps us to ensure that our donor contributions are being used wisely, and are consistent with the needs and goals of the schools and students who receive funds from those contributions.

In other collaborations, such as the affiliate programs to which Avivara provides administrative support, we have chosen to work alongside other community-based educational projects where there is strong evidence of community-based leadership and involvement. Rather than creating relationships of dependency, we seek to establish ongoing and supportive relationships that empower communities in assuming greater ownership of their own development process.

Graduation celebration in San Miguel Escobar
Our Core Values
Justice and Fairness: We strive to ensure that all people connected with Avivara and its programs are treated in a manner that is just and fair. We do not discriminate in the administration of our policies or programs on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, ethnicity/ancestry, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. We are committed to the implementation of policies, standards and operating procedures that promote equitable treatment for our clients, employees, community partner agencies, vendors, and donors.

Honesty and Transparency: We are committed to providing frequent, accurate and truthful communications to our various constituencies. We believe that understanding can be best achieved through open, honest and thoughtful dialogue with others. 

Dignity and Respect: Each person has an inherent dignity and the right to be treated with respect, regardless of origin or status. Therefore, we strive to ensure that all people working and interacting with our organization are treated in a friendly, prompt and courteous manner.

Service and Contribution: By extending ourselves in service to others, we commit to improving our world and be opened to new levels of personal understanding. We seek to develop within ourselves and others the skills for working collaboratively with people from different cultural backgrounds so that we may address specific instances of poverty, oppression, injustice and alienation within our global and local communities. 

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