On the left you see Andy and Brian with Jocelyn and her brother. Jocelyn has never been to school because she has down syndrome and the public schools currently do not accept children like her although it is currently law in Guatemala as of 2003 to have public education for special needs children. In the middle picture you see Lionel in front of a portion of the old public school where Lionel hopes that the special classroom could take place. There is a new school being created in another part of the town. On the far right is Terre, Pedro and Cindy. Pedro is another one of at least 17 children who will attend the special school.
One of the reasons for Kupenda’s existence is that many people with disablities end up begging on the streets. In order to get a better understanding of public perception of people with disablities in Guatemala we interviewed a couple of the beggars we found in Antigua about why they, beg, how the public perceives them, and what other hope they have for employment. This man is “Maximillion” and he was great to talk to. He lost his leg in a bus accident, which is apparently quie common in his area where people areriding bused on narrow roads near cliffs with no guard rails. He told us that the public perception of disablity is quite negative and that he has no alternative to begging since he cannot read and was formerly in an occupation that required the use of both legs. The government of Guatemala estimates that less than 2% of people with disablities in Guatemala are employed.
We met with the church committee that was established to do the work it will take to get this classroom started. Cindy presented Kupenda’s history and activities in Kenya and asked what their committment will be to these children. Kupenda relies heavily on the local community so we established that they will commit to doing what it taked to start things. The church is going to raise the funds to get the special needs children of Pastores to the doctor to be diagnosed. We met with the potential special ed. teacher who said this is the first step to starting a class. During this meeting we established that it would take at least $6,000 USD to get this class started. This includes a year’s worth of classroom supplies, part time teacher salaries and associated costs. The idea is to start with one teacher in the afternoons. This way people in the church can volunteer as teacher aids in the classroom after they get out of work.