Religious Youth Service

Religious Youth Service Helps Schools in Antigua, Guatemala

A joint project of Religious Youth Service and Global Peacemakers

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Twenty-seven young people assembled in Antigua, Guatemala, on July 1 to learn skills critical for peacemaking and reconciliation in a collaborative project of Global Peacemakers and Religious Youth Service. Participants in the ten-day project heralded from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba, USA, and France.

The group made an initial excursion to Tecpán to visit the old Mayan temples and ceremonial grounds in Iximche, where they learned about the history and culture of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala. The trip concluded at the main location for the project in the community of Santiago Atitlan. There the group was received and welcomed with a cultural performance by the administrative Director Gaspar Reanda and the teachers of the private school, Santiaguito.

Service activities took place at Santiaguito and another school, Escuela de Autogestión Comunitaria in Chacaya, which Religious Youth Service and its partners have been assisting for the past year. This time, some light construction work was done, including building a support wall to protect it against future mud slides, as well as leveling an area for building another classroom. United Initiatives for Peace donated school supplies and recreational equipment (including jump ropes, footballs, and basketballs) through "Operation Cooperation," an initiative aimed at helping international communities address their education, recreational, and social needs.

The Director of Schools in Santiago Atitlan stated that this construction help was deeply valuable and met a critical need in this isolated community. Participants could also see tangible results of their labors. They embraced not only the local school children but also the rich diversity of this Mayan community as they became integrated into people's daily life. The young people came to appreciate the complexity of their service experience and were eager to find ways to make these few days a springboard for further involvement with the local community as well as to apply what they learned in a broader context to address the needs of the global community.

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