While brainstorming what services we could provide to our students with special needs, I went with Rosario to visit Centro de Educacion Especial Hermano Pedro in Antigua. Rosario taught for the government program for special needs children for years, then funding was short and she was transferred to El Hato two years ago. Nuestros Ahijados, a nonprofit in San Felipe, decided to supplement the program and hired several of the teachers back, including Rosario.
She teaches the Prepa class in El Hato in the morning, then goes to Hermano Pedro in the afternoon to teach kindergarten-level children with special needs. I was hoping the school could be a resource for some of our students, but it wasn’t the case. The program is held in a poorly maintained building, which is shared with other ministry programs. This is typical in Guatemala. Rosario doesn’t have the luxury of setting up her classroom to suit the needs of her students the way she does in El Hato and the government does not provide special materials for her wheelchair-bound students. She has a cabinet in the back of the room where she stores her own materials which she has collected over the years of teaching. Each day she arrives early to set up a corner of the classroom the best she can and teaches her heart out.
Returning to El Hato the next day, I had a greater appreciation of all we do have, even though, when compared to other schools, it sometimes doesn’t seem like much. We collected some books and puzzles from the preschool room and library in El Hato to share with Rosario’s afternoon students. Rosario mentioned that her dream was to get a boccia ball set for the school so they could practice and participate in the yearly tournament which takes place in Guatemala. A long-term Las Manos volunteer, Julie, donated a set during her last visit. Rosario is extremely grateful for our help, which means the support of donors like you.