Olimpia Boido is a community worker, originally from Argentina, who has been involved in supporting the New Hope Foundation in Rabinal, Guatemala ever since she first worked at that organization as part of an internship program funded by the Government of Canada back in 2004-2005. Over the years, she has visited back multiple times and, every time, is taken aback by the continuous developments and initiatives at the school. Olimpia is a single parent by choice to her son in Toronto, where she works as a freelance translator.
“Our children are the seed of the future. We consider that a good education for them is the only manner in which to combat intolerance, construct true peace and improve the quality of life for our Communities.”
Jesus Tecu Osorio – massacre survivor, human rights activist and founder of the New Hope Foundation
The Story on New Hope Foundation – Rabinal Guatemala
Rabinal is a municipality four hours north of Guatemala City. Despite its beauty, it was also home to brutal massacres on the Mayan population during the 36-year internal armed conflict (1961 – 1996) and a controversial dam project that violently displaced many surrounding villages in the 1980s.
The New Hope Foundation started in 1997 as a way to provide scholarships for junior high Maya Achi youth to attend school. However, due to the racism in both the way students were treated and the material they were taught, the organization leaders resolved to create what at the time seemed impossible – an educational institution grounded in local indigenous knowledge, that also addresses key material taught in the mainstream curricula.
The educational institution within the New Hope Foundation started in 2003, and provide a sorely needed alternative for Mayan youth to access formal education that fosters pride in the local indigenous Maya Achi culture and language while acquiring skills to succeed in Guatemala’s multicultural society.
The institution uses a popular education model that encourages teamwork and activities inside and outside the classroom including hands-on agriculture and community development projects. Classes are taught in Spanish, and students have written Maya Achi and English classes as well, given that most students speak Achi fluently, but do not know how to write it as it is not a language commonly taught in schools. Different grades will take on the responsibility of organizing the celebration of the various culturally significant events, including intricate drama dances that involve special masks, costumes, and choreographies, some of which have been recognized as heritage of humanity by UNESCO.
The majority of students are from families impacted by the massacres, determined to know their past and to build a better future through education. The placard on the educational centre wall courageously proclaims “we will not forget”.
Students come from all over the municipality. Some go home after the day is over, while those who live furthest away board at the school. Unlike mainstream public school, in which students are required to cover the cost of what amounts to unaffordable school materials for the majority of campesio families, students at the New Hope Foundation receive their school materials, health care, and other basic needs from the institution itself free of charge.
Success Stories – Ingry
Ingry is an indigenous Maya Achi young woman and is the eldest of five siblings from the rural community of Chiticoy, in Rabinal. From 2012 to 2014, she attended the junior high school at the New Hope Foundation in the municipality of Rabinal, Guatemala, thanks to a scholarship from HYTES. The academic excellence that she demonstrated through this opportunity allowed her to receive an additional scholarship to attend senior high school, from which she graduated with the title of Kindergarten Teacher in 2017. Without the support of HYTES and the New Hope Foundation, it would not have been possible for Ingry to achieve an education higher than elementary school.
After her graduation in late 2017, she joined her father in Guatemala City where there are more employment opportunities, and they are both financially sustaining her family to ensure that their basic needs are met and that Ingry’s siblings can also continue their studies. She plans to continue providing financial support while exploring her options for employment in her field and looking into future possibilities to further her studies.
Success Stories – Emiliana
Emiliana is an indigenous Maya Achi youth from the remote rural community of Las Ventanas, where she lives along with her three siblings and her parents. She received a scholarship through HYTES to attend the junior high school at the New Hope Foundation in Rabinal from 2015 to 2017. During this time, she took advantage of everything that the school had to offer, including actively participating in leadership skills development projects and workshops. The skills that she developed as a result enabled her to carry out a local community project focused on food safety and nutrition. In a country where much work is being done to address high levels of sexism and racism, this is no small feat. As Emiliana continued to develop her strengths, she was chosen to represent her school in a different part of the country for a regional reading contest (where the attached picture was taken), and her performance won her a trip to the country’s seaside, which she had never seen.
Her success in junior high allowed her to access another scholarship and Emiliana is currently enrolled at the senior high school program with a focus on community development offered through the New Hope Foundation. She expects to graduate at the end of 2019 and hopes to further her studies and find work in her field upon graduation.