A Catholic priest and a Presbyterian elder walk into an Irish pub in Lexington. It sounds like a setup for a joke.
The discussion is quite serious: the conversation is about the fractured educational structure and systemic hopelessness of many children in Guatemala. Out of this initial meeting, the dream of Guatemalan Educational Outreach is formed. Initially the scope of the task seems overwhelming, but with a go-and-see attitude from the two of them and many Kentuckians willing to follow both financially and/or with their time, the problem is broken down to a manageable target.
First, let’s meet the current president of Guatemalan Educational Outreach, Father Miguel. He is a native of Palencia, Guatemala and priest in central Kentucky. He understands all too well the challenges of getting a good education in his home country. He has seen too many children who cannot read or write and leave the school systems because of little positive social or family network.
Board member Forrest Day, who’s traveled to Guatemala several times for the project and will return in July, said the path to a better future is clear.
“The tragedy is that if the children were believed in, fed something for breakfast and lunch, and provided a well-paid bilingual teacher (by Guatemalan standards) their chances of success would improve dramatically,” Day said. “In a nutshell, they need a quality education and the ability to speak fluent English; the jobs are there for the ones that can speak it. Therefore, the need to take the dangerous trek to North America to try to survive financially is greatly reduced.”
Guatemalan Educational Outreach, G.E.O. provides a hands on approach to English immersion education to the children via teachers and Kentucky volunteers that rotate. The duration of each volunteer’s length of stay can range from one to three weeks based on their individual needs. The Kentucky volunteers would have the opportunity to see with their own eyes their investment grow.
G.E.O. will focus on k-2 high risk students pulled from three local elementary schools. The chosen families/students must support and buy into the school by supporting it and their child to make the dream possible of higher level education.
All funds raised go to the school and salary of the teacher. Any residual funds would assist in bringing more children into the school. No one is paid for “working” with G.E.O. Any expenses incurred by Kentucky volunteers helping the school are self-funded.
G.E.O. is a faith and spiritual based team of individuals who want to put the teachings of their faith and values to work for the impoverished children of Guatemala.
Day says, “We cannot save the world, and that is not our task, but we want to do as much as we can.”
The first annual GEO Family Fun Fest is scheduled for Saturday June 17, 5 to 8 p.m. at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church at 3534 Tates Creek Road. Music will be provided by Anna Z and Chandler, along with Freakdaddy’s Rock n Soul Review. There will be an Inflatable super slide, fun kids’ activities, and the Salsarita Food Truck.
The mission of G.E.O. a 501(c)(3) Corp. is to build and fund educational access in Palencia, Guatemala for children with limited financial resources. 100 percent of donations go to project.