Cayman flag flies in Guatemala

Howard Lobb, director of Partner Development, left, with graduating student Elvia Xicay and sister Rosa, and Rotary’s Chris Johnson.

A partnership between the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman and Cooperative for Education Guatemala is helping students to get an education.

Cooperative for Education provides textbooks, computers, scholarships and literacy programmes to underprivileged children in Guatemala with the mission of helping them overcome poverty through education.

It was founded in 1996 by two Xavier University graduates and has offices in Westwood and Guatemala City.

Last month, Rotary past president Chris Johnson attended the annual graduation of the students sponsored by members of the club.

Johnson said the Cayman flag stands proudly in the new headquarters of the Cooperative for Education, just as it did when he and Derek Haines assisted in its opening two years ago.

“It is one of the most satisfying and exciting projects I have ever been involved in. It includes visiting many of the schools, largely in the rural and remote areas, interacting with the students and seeing them graduate after six year,” Johnson said.

He said many of the students go on to enroll at the university. If not, then their graduation from the programme makes it easier to find employment. “Often such students become the main breadwinner in the family and assist their own siblings to improve their education,” Johnson explained.

He said the programme has been extremely successful and has the full support of the Guatemalan government.

The cost of sponsoring each student is US$1,000 each year for one student. Over the past 10 years, Johnson said Rotary has donated about $100,000.

Rotary Club of Grand Cayman first contributed to the programme over 12 years ago, at the suggestion of Rotarian Benny Moore.

To date, Rotarians have sponsored approximately 30 students and remain committed to the project with annual visits whilst the club itself is involved in fund-raising projects. In addition, Rotary International plays an active role.

Approximately 30 Rotarians, including former Governor of the Cayman Islands, Helen Kilpatrick, have contributed to the project, Johnson said

According to Rotary, the programme represents the club’s efforts towards educating more than 55,000 Guatemala children across the country in 313 schools.

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