As indicated by the title, the program is home- based this year. In Guatemala, due to the pandemic, school was cancelled in March and modified to online where possible. There is no start date for in- person school at the moment. For these reasons, we had to figure out how we could still run the program, without having classes at the Shekinah Centre as normal. For our children, who are from small Pokomchí villages and low income families, doing an online program isn’t possible due to the lack of technology. This is the case for many rural schools here too. The best option was to send education packages to the children and check up on their progress through phone calls and texts to their parents’ cell phones. So that’s exactly what we’re doing!
This August, BMH parents arrived at the Shekinah Center to receive the packages, along with a beautiful handmade cloth backpack which will hold each child’s educational handout for the month. Once/month, parents will arrive to pick up these packages (one per child) and also drop off the previous month’s homework from the package, to be reviewed by ASOSAP staff. Packages are carefully reviewed with the parents, so that they can then explain and work with their children.
This September was also the first month that a food package was given for each child. Basic food items and special treats are included for the children. They would have received snacks during the classes, so these packages are a substitute for that. They will contribute to the nutritional needs of the children. The last education and food packages will be given out in January 2021, a total of 6 months.
We are happy that God made a way for this program to continue. Thank you for all your prayers regarding this!
This is an uncertain time for adults, and for the children as well. Their normal routine of going to school, playing in the streets with their friends, and going on outings has changed. The world looks very different to them too. This program gives them something to look forward to. It is a positive and meaningful activity in this strange time, a way to keep their minds active, learn more about Jesus and life skills, and to influence their families in positive ways. It is also a way to fill some of the spiritual emptiness, caused by the suspension of in-person church services.
So how will the program do this and what are they learning?
Each package has Bible and English topics, two of each monthly. ASOSAP staff are working hard each month to put these packages together. The goal is that the handouts are colorful and filled with fun activities, so that it is interesting and stimulating for the children, but not too challenging that they become frustrated. The children are excited and we don’t want this to diminish. It is a fine balance and your prayers are vital!
As last year was the first year of teaching English, the basics are being reviewed, such as the alphabet, numbers, and personal pronouns.
For the Bible education, the Bible topics are based on a kid’s discipleship book and the theme is Jesus’ Great Journey. Through sharing Bible stories about Jesus’ ministry on earth, about how He taught, shared the Good News, healed, and tended to the needs of others, the children are invited to come along on this journey and learn how to be more like Jesus. Amongst the comics and fun activities, there are Bible verses to memorize. Parents have sent us videos and it is heartwarming to see the children’s confidence, pride, and joy as they share these Bible verses. Parents have commented that the children are especially enjoying memorizing the Bible verses and this is evident through their big smiles. Parents also did well in cheering their kids on and shouting “Bravo!!!” when they finished. It is impressive to see how children and parents are adapting well to this new learning. We are excited to see how they will progress through this modified BMH program.
We are aiming to give the kids and the parents all the tools needed to succeed. Included in this are 3 handouts for parents. The first one just went out in September. It is called “How to Maintain Love, Patience, and Tolerance in the Home.” Homeschooling is a new task for Pokomchí families and can present new challenges within the family. This education focuses on how God made each one of us purposely different and how as a family we need to learn to live together in harmony. The activity ends with worship songs that families can sing together and then pray together.
Even though this program is in the home, great things can be accomplished! We talked to some mothers about why they wanted to have their children in this program. Here are two responses:
“I want them to learn how to read and receive an education. It will serve them later. I have realized how important it is.”
“My children attended this program last year. They learned how to use the computer, which will help them in their schooling and make it easier for them. I’ve seen that they’ve learned through this program and I want them to keep learning. I like the program and I like that they are learning from the Bible and memorizing Bible verses. I would like them to continue doing this.”
Please keep the children and parents in your prayers as they have the opportunity to learn together, grow closer in relationship with God, and be a light amongst their fellow Pokomchí families.