Giving Hope to the Future through Education

    After School Learning Centers
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"The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder."
                                                                                           - Ralph M. Stockman

Ann Austin-Avivara

Even when we are able to help keep children in school and assist schools in providing a better education, many students still lack a strong home support system for their learning. Often times the parents cannot read or write, or have only a very limited education and are not able to help their children with their schoolwork. Our After School Learning Centers help to address this problem by providing students a safe and secure place with adult supervision where they can get help with their homework, learn good study habits, and have opportunities to engage in other learning activities that promote creative and critical thinking skills. Staffed by professional teachers and volunteers, this program is another important component in our efforts to empower students, families and communities through education.

Zacatecas Leaders
Zacatecas leadership team
Biblioteca y Centro Communidad de Zacatecas
Toward the latter part of 2008, our staff became aware of a group of young adults in the village of Zacatecas who wanted to create a community library and after school learning center for their community. Each of them had been fortunate enough to have received an education through the secondary level, and now wanted to provide a similar opportunity to other children in their village.

In the center of their village was an abandoned building that had once been the village's salon communal (a village meeting place), but over the years had been neglected and fallen into disrepair. They convinced the municipal council in Pastores to let them use the building and to fix it up. They had tremendous energy and passion for their project, but little money. It was at this point that Avivara offered to help. We initially provided the group with a small grant to replace the roof, upgrade the electrical system, and clean and paint the space. With much elbow grease on the part of their group, the initial "cleanup" phase of the project was completed in early January of 2009.

The group then approached us again and asked if we would be willing to help them with furnishing the space. We provided them with a second grant that was used to purchase shelving for books, desks, tables and chairs. By the opening of school in late January of 2009, the group was able to open their facility and begin offering help to the students in their community.

Seeing how much the group accomplished with our first two grants, Avivara has continued to provide the group with financial assistance for purchasing additional books and to pay part-time salaries for staffing the center from 2:00-6:00 PM every day. In addition, Avivara has been able to recruit other groups in the U.S. and Guatemala to provide additional resources such dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, primary readers and chapter books for the Center's library.

In addition, the group has received recognition from the local government and press, and is also starting to receive support from the members of the community and surrounding towns. They have also initiated community building events such as a Friday night family movie night and cross-country races for the youth of the village.
The impact of the Center was recently described in a local newspaper, "The community has expressed great satisfaction with the work of this group because now the children of the village do not have to travel long distances to get help with completing their schoolwork."

We have very much enjoyed working with and supporting this group of actively involved and positive young adults. They are definitely working towards a more equitable and just society in their country. It is this type of community empowerment through education that is one the ultimate goals of Avivara.

Painting in Zacatecas
Painting the new space
Gustavo visiting Zacatecas library
Student using the Zacatecas library
Footer Blue Diamonds