Doroteia Pathways Foundation
Guatemala Art Project

Creando Mi Futuro (Creating My Future)

This Guatemalan Project funds weekly group art classes for a group of 35 of the poorest children of San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala.  We believe that Art opens minds, and that good Nutrition provides the basis for good learning in school.   The art classes also teach techniques that will be useable in the child's school and subsequent life, in this pueblo known for its Tz'utujil painting tradition.   The children are also learning to express themselves and their feelings, increase their self-esteem, and receive positive behavioral modeling from the program's class structure, and the young student-teachers.

The weekly art classes take place in a rented site affording classroom settings for a younger (5-11) group and for older children (12-16).  It also has an outdoor area beside the lake that is occasionally used for drawing and painting, or for flying their hand-made kites.  

Because good nutrition is an issue among the poor, a small meal is part of the class - which provides both protein and vegetables - and food baskets are given out to the mothers once a month, in exchange for their children's consistent attendance in public school and at the art class.  The Parent Board of the program organizes, purchases and distributes the baskets in a monthly meeting, at which issues affecting the program are openly discussed (in Spanish and Tz'utujil) and decisions made.   These parents are growing in their ability to reach consensus on decisions and to cooperate effectively to produce the weekly food distribution.

Doroteia's representative on-the-ground is retired Chico psychotherapist Mira Talbott-Pope, who has been living and working in Guatemala for ten years.  Mira worked with project Ayudame A Pintar Mi Futuro, a San Pedro program founded by two young Mayan painters, for 8 years, until a recent decision to split the programs.   She now enlists the help of visiting artists, local long-term extranero/as, and three young advanced students of the program to both increase the children's exposure to various forms of art, and to keep its Guatemalan and Tz'utujil base.

                                    THE SETTING AND THE PARTICIPANTS

San Pedro la Laguna, on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, is economically better-off than many villages of Guatemala, due to its tourist facilities and the attraction of the mild climate and beautiful vistas.  Although this situation can vary greatly throughout a given year with conditions that affect tourism - the cyanobacteria infestation in the lake, storms and occasional landslides which block the roads, the economic downturn worldwide -- painting is a viable occupation in this town known for its vibrant Tz'utujil Maya culture and art tradition.

But as in any growing community, there are some individuals who are "left behind" due to a low level of literacy, inheritance, or support.  Single mothers are particularly vulnerable.  This program aids these women (and some single fathers) with food and educational help for their children.

The mothers in this program have either lost husbands due to death or divorce, or have husbands who are non-supportive for various reasons, including advanced alcoholism.  All are Tz'utujil, and speak that language with each other and their children; though about half speak some Spanish.  60%

of the mothers cannot write their names (another issue the program would like to grow to address.)  With low literacy and little Spanish, they are unable to take advantage of the jobs that cater to tourists, and thus miss out on this economic advantage.  If they work, they weave small belts for 10Q each which take a day to weave, or they sell in the market, sitting long hours on the cobblestones.   Often when they lose a husband, they lose the support of his family as well, and are therefore truly on their own.  It is not uncommon for a family (on their own) to go without a meal; one student said he had never eaten eggs prior to his involvement with the program.

A few of our children are cared for by a relative due to the death of both parents.  These are usually aunts or grandmothers who have other children still to care for, so this additional child is a financial burden.  Four of our parents are single fathers, with the mothers of the children lost to death or abandonment.   Any other male parents present are day-laborers, earning $6 per day, not enough to support their families.

With these emotional issues (alcoholism, abandonment, death) added to the stresses of poverty for these children, even more important is the opportunity to express themselves, and the emotional support they receive from our staff.

Our program is designed to address some urgent needs of this population with scant resources.   Another of these needs is school expenses.  Public school in Guatemala is free through the sixth grade, though there are minimal costs for school supplies like notebooks and pencils.  After sixth grade, there are tuition, uniform and supplies expenses, which increase even more, after the 10th grade.   This cost means that the cycle of poverty continues, when poor indigenous families can't afford the fees, and thus their children will work at menial labor - reducing their incomes and their ability to contribute back to the extended family.    This budget item remains a "when funds available" issue, as it is not part of the monthly sponsorship fee, but somehow each year around 5000Q has been distributed to  cover these costs for our families.   Donations to this fund are greatly appreciated.

                                                      GENERAL DONATIONS NEEDED

You can make donations to support this valuable program through this website.  Donations are tax deductable.  General donations are used to purchase art materials, pay teachers and rent, and support the scholarship fund (described above).  No money goes directly to project staff or families.

                                                      SPONSORING A CHILD/FAMILY

The consistent help of sponsorship of a child will allow program staff to anticipate income and thus to budget more realistically.  It also creates the potential for a rich and rewarding intercultural exchange and personal relationship between sponsor and child/family.

Assigning sponsors - called madrinas and padrinos - allows children to take part in the Saturday drawing and painting classes (pays for materials), and receive the weekly small meal in class, and for mothers to receive the food basket once-a-month.  It also pays a bit for the rent and the minimal pay for the young teachers.  Sponsors receive information about the child/family they are helping, and photos of the child, his/her parent(s), and often photos of the home they live in.  Sponsorship funds never go to the family directly, but only for the items mentioned above.  You are welcome to write to the child, and will receive cards from your sponsored child.  You are also welcome to visit the family home (with staff) if you visit San Pedro.  We will be happy to help you plan your trip to and in Guatemala, and find you a hotel or homestay here in San Pedro.  If you would like to learn more about sponsoring a child, please email Mira.

                                                          COST OF SPONSORSHIP

One child/family can be sponsored in this program for $29 per month, or $348 per year.  This can be scheduled yearly, or every three or six months, as you choose.  Some people arrange automatic deposits from their bank.   We ask for at least a one year commitment, but hope it will be an ongoing relationship that you are delighted to continue as the child grows.  Donations are paid through Doroteia Pathways Foundation, at PO Bo 7514, Chico CA 95927, or via PayPal on this website (please include enough to cover their fee.)   We will send out email reminders, and you will receive a yearly receipt for your donations, for tax purposes.

Doroteia Pathways Foundation
P.O. Box 7514
Chico, CA  95927
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