Like many Mayan children in rural Guatemala, Elsa Marina (age 10) lives in a house with a dirt floor and corrugated metal walls. To get to her tiny school, she walks along a narrow, muddy path that passes a dozen or so ramshackle homes like her own. Her parents were refugees from Guatemala’s 36-year civil war and relocated to the poor village of Santa Rosa, where Elsa is now growing up.
Until recently, Elsa and her fellow students had almost no books in their classroom and none in their homes. Because their teacher, Maide Ramírez, received little training in how to teach reading, literacy activities and reading practice were simply not a part of daily life in school. Without books they lacked even the means to practice. Nearly every child in Elsa’s class struggled with reading.
Child Aid supporters helped us bring Reading for Life to Santa Rosa, which has made Elsa and her classmates better readers, increasing the odds they will stay in school. The 94 children in Elsa’s school now have access to high-quality, Spanish language books, which they use in daily Child Aid reading activities. And every teacher in Santa Rosa is learning how to teach reading more effectively.
Since partnering with Child Aid, says Ms. Ramírez, “The children have improved so much they can actually read a newspaper.” In fact, she says, “Many of the parents now buy a newspaper so their kids can read it to them.”
Thanks to Child Aid supporters, Elsa is now the top reader in her class and takes a book home every day. Her dream? “I want to be a teacher,” she told us on our last visit.