In the highlands of Guatemala it is uncommon for students to continue in school beyond Grade 6.
For six years students of Lori Blouin’s Grade 6 French immersion class at Cedar Hill middle school have been designing and making Christmas cards to help villagers of Chuk Muk, Guatemala, who fled the village of Panabaj when it was hit by a mudslide 12 years ago, killing 1,400 people.
Within each card is picture of the Tzu’tujil Mayan child that will benefit from the purchase of the card.
The Cedar Hill students create a card to sell at local markets, including the Dec. 16 Cedar Hill Market and Silent Auction at the school, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The students even choose who the money from their one-of-a-kind card will benefit. It can support education, nutrition, cooking, health, water and energy efficient stove programs in the village of Chuk Muk. The cards cost up to $40, though many are much less than that.
“I chose one that costs $40, which is worth a year’s school supplies for one student,” said student Alayna Middleton.
“We like drawing, so it’s more fun and even better knowing it’s for a good cause,” said Keeley Eggiman, who’s also hoping her card sells for $40.
Claire Manga’s cards are priced for $20 and will support young women’s cooking and sewing classes.
It was Louise Soza who founded Aldea Maya as a registered Canadian non-profit following the 2005 disaster. She’s been working with students in her hometown of Qualicum and now makes the annual trip to Saanich to work with students at Cedar Hill middle school.
While Aldea Maya helps many initiatives, Soza couldn’t help but notice students didn’t continue past Grade 6. The card sales have enabled several hundred students to continue their education.
At the same time, the students learn about developing-world issues and that even though the problems are huge, one person can make a difference, Soza said.
In 2018, there will be 15 students from the village in university.