Kupenda Guatemala

Lionel, Terre, Cindy, Andy, Brian in front of the potential classroom for special needs children in Pastores, Guatemala
The first week of April, Andy (Kupenda vice president), Brian (Kupenda board member), and Cindy (Kupenda president) went to Guatemala to follow up on the idea of expanding Kupenda to the town of Pastores Guatemala. Andy and Brian spent a few months in the town of Antigua Guatemala a about three years ago to take spanish. Andy’s teacher heard about what Kupenda was doing and took Andy and brian to see several children who were unable to attend school due to their disablities. Andy, Brian and Cindy supported themselves financially to do this trip. We were luck to have Terre, Andy’s former spanish teacher to assist us with spanish when needed. Terre is hoping to be very involved with Kupenda as it expands to this small town in Guatemala. The local church has formed a committee to start this classroom and Lionel, Brian’s former spanish teacher’s husband, is heading up this initiative. In addition to being a very active member of the church, he is also the deputy mayor of the town of Pastores. He has an incredible heart for these special children.
This is the town of Pastores where, three years ago, Andy and Brian met several children in need of special education. These children do not have access to school.

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.

Although I enjoyed Guatemala a great deal, Andy and Brian will be responsible for making this project work on the US side. Of course Terre will continue to be such a help in translating our material into spanish.
Andy and I spent a little more time in Guatemala then planned because I had my wallet stolen with my passport in it! It was holy week while we were there and the crowds were enourmous. Since I don’t speak spanish (I took French in high school), Andy had to stay behind with me until the US embassy openned. Someone snipped the straps of my little purse while I was stuck in the middle of the crowd. Brian took a photo of the crowd right before it happenned. Its likely someone in the crowd photo below took my passport.

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.

Thank you for reading if you made it this far. We’ve got a lot of work to do in Kenya but it looks like things are stirring in Guatemala. We have a lot of work to go and a long way to go in Kenya alone so it looks like we are crazy taking this on. We probably are but what else is new?
Also forgive the strange order of things but I still am quite inadequate at this blogging thing.

2 thoughts on “


Wow Guatemala looks like an interesting place. I am so happy to see Kupenda expanding to other areas while still growing leaps and bounds in Kenya. Thank you for helping so many people and making a difference in so many lives.


Michelle H

Thanks for posting this update. It is exciting to see Kupenda expanding!


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