2014 Annual Report

Annual Report

March 1, 2014 - February 28, 2015

In the community of Santa Elena Veinte de Octubre SEPA provided 25 scholarships, which will make it possible for boys and girls to continue their education beyond 6th grade. Seventeen students ( eleven boys and 6 girls) will be attending middle school in 2015 and eight students (seven boys and one girl) will be attending high school. The cost was $10,350. The middle school students receive $350 for each student and the high school students receive $550. Our goal for 2016 is to increase the number of female students who are continuing their education. One strategy for accomplishing this goal will be to determine the number of females who could have attended either middle school or high school, but choose not to attend in 2015 and their reasons for not attending. Once we have this number we will set aside that number of scholarships to be used exclusively by females. This information will be communicated to the governance structure in the community along with the information that the people in Oberlin who support SEPA’S Scholarship Program strongly believe that it is very important for both boys and girls to receive an education. In addition to the scholarships SEPA provided $4,792 in supplemental salaries to the director of the elementary school in Santa Elena (Victoriano Choc Cu) and his teaching partner (Virginia Yat Sambrano).

We are delighted to report that we recently received an official request from Dionicio Choc Cu to attend extension classes the University of San Carlos in Cantabal. The request, which SEPA funded was for $535. This amount will allow Dionicio to attend the University for one year. He is currently teaching in an elementary school and attending the University one day a week (Saturdays).

In Copal AA SEPA contributed $8,000, approximately a third of the total budget, to fund the operation of the middle school, including salaries for the following: 3 teachers, a director, an accountant, and various administrative costs. We also contributed $1,000 to the high school scholarship fund.

For fiscal year 2015/2016 Copal AA has requested $18,000 from SEPA. This amount represents 75% of the total budget. The increase in Copal AA ‘s request is a result of having lost other sources of funding. This year Copal AA will add two grades at the high school level. Their ultimate goal is to be in a position to offer three years of middle school and three years of high school.

In January of 2015 SEPA sponsored an Oberlin College Delegation of eleven students to visit Santa Elena for ten days and Copal AA for five days. The student leader was Clara Lincoln, a second year student from Washington, D.C. and the group was accompanied by Lynne Purvis, a former human rights monitor with NISGUA and Erik Woodward a current employee of NISGUA. Both Erik and Lynne were formerly sponsored by SEPA as human rights monitors in Guatemala. The student delegation studied either Spanish or Q’eqchi’ with local teachers and they taught English to elementary age students in Santa Elena. In Copal AA the students entered into a long discussion with the village council about the Guatemalan Government’s desire to build a mega hydroelectric dam just upriver from the community of Copal AA. Copal AA and the surrounding countryside are very opposed to the building of this dam. The dam would flood thousands of acres of farmland and forests above the dam while greatly reducing the flow of water below the dam thereby eliminating the river as a source of food and transportation. Moreover the dam would not provide electricity for the local communities. The dam is a major concern of Copal AA and all of the people of this region.

Finally, We are looking forward to sponsoring Sarah Johnson, a gradating senior at Oberlin College, as a NISGUA human rights monitor, who will begin her service in Guatemala this September. Her initial commitment will be for six months. While Sarah is in Guatemala SEPA will provide her with a monthly stipend of $530 per month along with a payment of $200 per month for dues to NISGUA. Sarah was a member of the 2014 “Winter Term” delegation to Guatemala.