Posts Tagged ‘technology’

The Martyrs of Cantel

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

This February, over 60 volunteers traveled to Guatemala on a Cooperative for Education tour to deliver textbooks, inaugurate computer centers, visit Culture of Reading Program classrooms, and meet or reunite with their Scholarship Program students. It was a life-changing experience that opened everyone’s minds and hearts.

For the Jenkins family, one experience stands out among the rest.

Six weeks before staff member Leslie joined the CoEd team, her aunt Beth passed away from cancer at 45 years old. Beth was an incredibly kind, highly intellectual, sassy, and adventurous person who was dear to the entire family. At that time Leslie’s father Dale knew that he wanted to memorialize his sister in a special way, but he didn’t yet know how.

Beth Jenkins Stubbings

Beth Jenkins Stubbings


Mobile Computer Centers Reach Students at New Heights

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016


Imagine this…you live in a tiny town high in the mountains of Guatemala. The wind whips dense clouds across your path as you walk the dirt road to school every morning, obscuring your vision and soaking through your sweater. Your town is so far removed from the rest of the country that the town leaders have found only one brave soul to teach at your school of 100 students. In an attempt to make up for this, the government provides educational content in the form of DVDs and VHS tapes that you watch on an old television set. School is largely an exercise in sitting still and willing yourself to pay attention to a droning screen.


Vilma Chanchavac: The Path to Success

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Vilma Chanchavac is the seventh of eight children. Over the years, she has seen her siblings succeed, and she has seen them fail. Coming from a financially unstable family, three of her older siblings followed in her parents’ footsteps and dropped out of school after the sixth grade. They struggle every day to survive, mired in poverty.

The other three siblings were able to overcome their economic barriers and stay in school, becoming nurses and an industrial mechanic. They are all from one family, but education has led them down two very different paths.

Vilma and her family

Vilma (second from the right) with some members of her family

Thanks to Cooperative for Education (CoEd), Vilma is on the path of education, knowledge, and success. CoEd recently installed a Computer Center at her school, La Colina, and Vilma could not be happier. “I love the computers, and the new lab has totally changed our technology classes,” she says. Before, they used outdated equipment, and the computer teacher did not understand the material well enough to teach them anything useful. Vilma explains, “She would just have us make drawings on the computer for the entire class period.”

Now that Vilma’s teacher has been trained by CoEd, her teaching methods have been completely transformed. Vilma recognizes the drastic improvement, saying, “In the first month of class, we have already learned how to write letters, make PowerPoint presentations, use Excel, and do basic programming.”

Vilma is well on her way to achieving her dream of becoming an auditor thanks to YOUR support!

Vilma is well on her way to achieving her dream of becoming an auditor thanks to YOUR support!

Math comes naturally to Vilma, and she hopes to become an auditor someday. Now that she is gaining invaluable knowledge and skills that she will use every day in a professional setting, her dream is finally within reach. CoEd has provided her and her classmates with superior technology and instruction, but more importantly, with the tools to keep reaching for the previously unattainable. A completely new world has opened up for Vilma; she will now be qualified for jobs and opportunities that would be inconceivable if she had never learned how to use technology.

Keeping Vilma in school is a financial strain on the family, but they see the high quality education she is receiving and know it is worth the sacrifice. Her mother Florencia says, “Finding the money to pay for school supplies is a constant struggle, but we have to keep fighting because without a good education, you can’t find work anywhere anymore.” First in her class, Vilma always works hard, pushing herself to read more, to study more, to achieve more. She has seen both sides of what life has to offer, and she is determined to make the most out of her time in school.


Clearly excited about the new computer skills she is learning, Vilma says, “We recently learned how to create formulas in a spreadsheet. This is exactly the type of knowledge I need to succeed as an auditor!” Her older sister Maria, who dropped out of school, chuckles in disbelief and amazement when she hears Vilma. She exclaims, “I don’t even know how to turn a computer on!”

One family. Two different paths. YOUR support has set Vilma soundly on the right path—the path to success.

Velska Pahola Ajú: A dream realized

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Pulled from the archives of 2011—we want you to meet Velska and hear her story. She’s a shining star at CoEd and her story deserves to be told for all the hope it can give and the way it inspires overcoming obstacles. 
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Twenty-year-old Velska Pahola Ajú, from the rural town of Patzún in Guatemala’s impoverished Western Highlands, had seemingly modest aspirations.

“Ever since I was a child, I wanted to become a teacher,” she says. But in light of the fact that she was born in a country where indigenous women face discrimination, violence, and economic hardship, her dreams were anything but modest.

Besides growing up poor in an indigenous Kaqchiquel home, she faced other challenges as well. Velska’s parents separated when she was 10, tearing apart the fabric of her once close-knit family.

“It was so difficult psychologically, economically, and physically,” she shares. “My mom left my dad because he was an alcoholic and abusive. He did not help us out financially, either.” Those were difficult times, Velska remembers, “but I am proud of myself because in spite of all the problems, I remained a positive person and moved forward. I had faith in myself that I could do whatever I wanted to do.”
Velska 3
Velska, the eldest of five siblings, knew her mother could not make enough money in her own low-paying teaching job to keep her daughter in school. So Velska took a job caring for people’s children in the mornings, went to school in the afternoons, and worked in a hardware store on weekends to pay her own tuition. Velska’s weeks were exhausting, and sometimes she wondered if it was worth it. She loved her studies though, and enjoyed learning with CoEd textbooks. But it was her experience with the CoEd Computer Center at her school that strengthened Velska’s resolve to follow her childhood dream of becoming a teacher, with one slight twist: she would become a computer teacher.

“I had never touched a computer before CoEd put a lab in my middle school,” Velska comments. “The program inspired me to graduate and pursue the career I’ve always wanted.” Velska encountered new obstacles on her path to becoming a computer instructor. She experienced discrimination and harassment in her high school classrooms.
“I was the only indigenous girl in my class [of 52 students],” Velska notes. “There were only three other girls, but they ignored me. I was made fun of, even by my teachers,” she recalls without rancor. “But I didn’t let it bother me. I was there to learn, and that’s what I did.”

Against all odds, Velska graduated. And she knows she couldn’t have done it alone. “Without help from CoEd, my life would be so different,” Velska muses. “All of my classmates say what a difference the books and computers made for us.”

Soon after graduation, Velska approached her former CoEd Computer Center teacher, Silvio about employment opportunities with the organization. Impressed by her gumption, Silvio arranged a temporary assignment for Velska at the El Tejar lab, about an hour’s bus ride from Patzún. Velska managed to win over her supervisor, the faculty, parents, and most importantly, her students.

Silvio wants to hire Velksa full-time. He may have to wait though, as she has plans to enter San Carlos University next year. Velska wants to hone her skills and continue to pursue her dual passions, teaching and computers.

“My dreams for my future are to work, study at the university level, graduate, achieve economic stability, help my siblings and my mom, and just continue moving forward,” she states matter-of-factly. By no means are Velska’s aspirations modest. But she has proven that they are now well within reach.

Velska has come full circle. Once an eager and dedicated student, she is now a skilled and knowledgeable teacher, who will help many indigenous young people—just like her—use education and technology as a bridge to a better life.

Meet Velska in our Computer Centers Program video at

Education in Action Series: Computers

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Those numbers don’t lie. Computer skills are absolutely crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala.  Remember Ivonne Barrios? She finally had the opportunity to use technology in the classroom, and is now ready to take on the world! Without computer skills, Ivonne wouldn’t be qualified for even the most basic of entry-level jobs.

How would your life be different without computer skills? Would you still be able to perform your job?