“I thank God for giving us life, our daily bread, and the opportunity to gather together in these sessions. Thank you for bringing education to us families who live in a remote village.
This education is very important, especially for us husbands who are here today. Our minds have been opened through this education. We are learning that we should take care of our wives, instead of just giving them child after child. If this continues, when they are older, they will not have the same energy and health. Often we don’t think about how this affects them. I also learned that God’s Word says that as husband and wife we are to submit ourselves to one another. I am very grateful for all of the new knowledge.” Community Education Participant
The testimony shows that the education is greatly valued and appreciated. Participants are sharing with others about the sessions and encouraging them to come.. We have more people coming than ever before – almost 60 people total between the 2 villages. During the education there is lots of interest, active discussion, and laughter. Villagers are motivated to get out of their homes, socialize with others, and acquire new information that will assist them and their families. As a result, new attitudes and perspectives form, which leads to action. We are excited to see this.
So how does community education work? Once a month Conzuelo (educator) and Alvaro (driver/assistant) travel to rural Poq’omchí communities with whom we partner. Men and women are welcome, but the majority of attendees are women. One month a health education topic is taught; the next month it’s a Bible topic. The current communities are San Lucas and Pansimaj. The seven year partnerships with ASOSAP encourage growing relationships of confidence and trust.
In both places, they encounter societal and physical challenges. The first one is seen especially when looking at a woman’s traditional role. Women have been raised to believe that their only purpose is to build a large family and take care of their home and family. Education isn’t a priority. This mentality limits what they think they can accomplish and robs them of the great potential they have to be leaders and make changes in their communities.
Lucia attends community education and explains her experience of this and the difference education makes:
“Thank you for everything you are teaching us. One of the topics that really spoke to me was family planning. Here in our culture, our parents allowed us to get married young and soon after we became pregnant. There wasn’t good communication between husband and wife. We never talked about how many children we wanted to have. We never planned for their futures. I remember my mom telling me that women were born to stay at home and have children. This mindset stuck with me throughout my life. I didn’t know that this would end up damaging my life.
I’m old now, but I can still share what I’m learning with my children. I will tell them that they should think about what they want to accomplish in their lives and plan for their futures. Also, for my sons, that it is very important to care for their wives as you have taught us. If we as women just keep on having many children, this negatively affects our health and can even result in death.”
As a Poq’omchí woman, wife, and mother, Conzuelo understands their situation completely and she has experienced transformation through others coming alongside her and education. She desires this for these women. She is teaching them that there needs to be good communication and a loving relationship between husband and wife. She uses examples from her life to demonstrate this. It is honest real talk about all aspects of relationships. These frank conversations don’t occur in the villages, but it is necessary.
They also learn about family planning, including the need to think about their future. There are key questions that need answers. Where are we going to live? How are we going to live? Where am I going to work? Why do we want children? How many children do we want? How am I going to take care of them and educate them? How much will this cost? What is our monthly income? Many young women are in attendance with their young children on their laps. They hear this and the wheels begin to turn. This education is very timely for them.
They also need to learn to build good communication and relationships with their children. They are taught about the necessity to make time for their children, to play with them and have fun together, to show them love, to tell them about God’s Word, and to come alongside and give them good advice. This will create a new generation who are better equipped for life’s struggles.
As a professional nurse, Conzuelo also teaches about health. This addresses physical challenges that can occur. This year they are learning all about personal hygiene and how to maintain a clean and healthy indoor/ outdoor home environment. Parasites and diarrhea can be common without this. They also receive in-depth education about further preventing these health concerns and treatment should infection happen. This knowledge equips them and promotes good health for themselves and their children.
Through the Bible topics, their spirituals lives are spoken to. This is not just the here and now, it has eternal ramifications. This year they are looking at: creation and the first sin, living by faith through the examples of Noah and Abraham & Sarah, our promised Savior and what it means to give your life to Him, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
All of this results in positive change: emotional, physical, and spiritual. We and the participants thank you for support that allows this to continue.
“I thank God for this education and ASOSAP for taking the time to come to our community and educate us. In my time, no one came to educate us. We were just on our own and had many children. For as long as I live and as long as there are education sessions, I will come to every single one that you teach. I have gained new knowledge.” Community Education Participant