Brethren Volunteer Helps Guatemalan School Raise Funds

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″

(Feb. 26, 2008) — Results are in from a three-week US educational/fundraising tour on behalf of Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, that included a stop Dec. 5, 2007, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Brethren Volunteer Service worker Ryan Richards, who serves as development and office manager at Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, accompanied and translated for the tour by Jorge Chojólan, founder of the nonprofit school.

Richards volunteers at the school on behalf of the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board. He reported that the tour and annual appeal raised sufficient funds to cover the academy’s operating budget for the 2008 school year and build a new computer lab.

Chojólan spoke at events on the tour, sharing his vision for education in Guatemala. Beginning on Nov. 27, the two gave 30 presentations in 12 cities across the United States, to interested audiences in as far flung places as Washington State and Washington, D.C.

“The academy, serving some of the country’s most marginalized children, offers a model for reforming Guatemala’s educational system,” Richards explained. “Only eight out of ten Guatemalan children enter elementary school, and all but three drop out before the end of sixth grade. Poor families can send their children to the academy thanks to scholarships and a subsidized general tuition. The school combines strong academic fundamentals with training in leadership and human rights issues.”

Tom Benevento, Latin American/Caribbean specialist for the General Board, has recommended the academy as a General Board mission site. He praised Richards’ placement as a good fit for the project. “Ryan’s work has been to develop a reliable and growing stream of resources for the project, thus bringing the academy closer to its goal of replicating similar schools in other communities in Guatemala. He has developed the academy’s fundraising infrastructure, including planning the tour, and has also built a sustainable volunteer structure,” he said. Richards holds a bachelor of arts degree in international development from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and was part of the fall 2007 orientation unit of Brethren Volunteer Service.

Benevento added, “The academy is a school that matches Church of the Brethren concerns and values of respect, education for youth from situations of poverty, and educating to create a more just and loving world.”

–Janis Pyle is coordinator of mission connections for the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.