Academic journal article Childhood Education

One Day in Guajiquiro

Academic journal article Childhood Education

One Day in Guajiquiro

Article excerpt

When CARE International asked me to help design what will be the second phase of PROHACE, a development project for education and community enhancement in the economically depressed rural area of Guajiquiro, in the Department of La Paz in Honduras, I agreed immediately. Based on my previous experiences designing and implementing educational plans and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, I felt I could make a significant contribution to PROHACE and the communities served by the project. On this trip, however, I probably learned as much as I taught--particularly about the hope, wisdom, and determination of the children, parents, and educators in these particular communities.

What Does It Mean to "Go to School" in Guajiquiro?

Going to school is a "big deal" in Guajiquiro; the community is clearly proud of their increasingly educated youth. They also take pride in their local endeavors to make school accessible to everyone. For Guajiquirans, school is a symbol of progress and freedom.

Making school and education available in Guajiquiro, and in similar communities in the area, requires a considerable group effort. Often, children have to travel arduously long distances simply to get to school. Once they arrive, they must overcome the discouragement brought on by lack of the most basic instructional materials.

As this article will make clear, teachers and parents, as well as local, national, and international institutions, have all done their share to build a sound education plan that best serves the community. The dedication and quiet strength of teachers, the hope of parents, the eagerness of children, the determination of the communities, and the creative partnerships with institutions and organizations made implementation of the education plan possible.

My Journey to Guajiquiro

It all began one Tuesday morning when, at 6:00 a.m., a pickup truck stopped by my hotel. Luz, the PROHACE project manager, was driving. With a friendly smile she explained why she was wearing jeans and boots, and she advised me to bring some comfortable shoes myself. The road was going to be long and difficult.

As we drove along, it was easy to detect the path of destruction left by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Reconstruction has been slow. On our way from Tegucigalpa to the Department of La Paz, one could see the remains of bridges and entire sections of what used to be the main roads. As we crossed the beautiful landscape where mountains and valleys meet, we traveled on difficult roads that challenged Luz's significant driving skills. Even so, signs of hope could be found. Around 7:00 a.m., we could see young children holding hands as they walked to school, carrying inexpensive versions of the ubiquitous student backpacks. Periodically, camionetas (pickup trucks)--just like ours--would stop to pick up formally dressed teachers heading to schools scattered among remote communities, The school day would start at 8:00 a.m.

By 9:00 a.m. we encountered a group of people working together to open an access road to a school. We were at San Isidro, a community of the municipality of Santa Ana, and the people working to open the road were mostly parents of students attending Jose Cecilio del Valle Elementary School. This road-clearing effort represented one of their tangible contributions to their children's education. As I would learn later that day, among other collaborative initiatives, many of the parents' associations also have decided to donate some land for the school gardens. The parents vividly demonstrated the gentle, quiet determination characteristic of the region's indigenous population--the Lencas. In our discussions, they would explain how much they value education as a means for improving the quality of life for the new generations. This thought was echoed many times by other parents I met during my visit. …

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