Winter 2014

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Winter 2014 Newsletter

Support SEPA at the Oberlin Winter Market.

Every Saturday until May at

Eastwood Elementary School


SEPA's Annual Meeting

Join Us

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Oberlin Public Library

3:00 pm

Learn about all of SEPA's activities during the past year and hear from members of the

January Guatemalan Delegation

Annual Guatemalan Fundraising Dinner

Freshly made guacamole, enchiladas, rice & beans and salad greeted 140 diners at the annual event on February 15th.

Auctioneer Andy Call helped coax $700 dollars from the bidders at the better every year dessert auction. In all, over $2500 was raised.

The recently returned Guatemalan delegation spoke to the audience after dinner sharing the recent experiences they had in Santa Elena and Copal AA. Besides learning to make chocolate and tortillas, visiting Laguna Lachua National Park and boating down the Chixoy River, the group also met with recent SEPA sponsored accompanier Eric Woodward as well as a lawyer in Guatemala City working to bring justice to victims of the Guatemalan Civil War.

Highlights from Recent Guatemalan Trip

by John Gates

Full transcript of John's review available here

The final big event in Santa Elena was the despedida (a farewell party for our group). This was the best organized despedida I have ever seen in Santa Elena. The event was held in the new “Women’s Center”, a very handsome and well constructed cinder block building with a cement floor. The despedida began with a student color guard walking into the building with a Guatemalan flag. Everyone rose and sang the national anthem. Next, 8 boys and girls dressed in red and white costumes performed a traditional Mayan dance.

Alexander Figurero, the Vice Mayor of the department of the Ixcan, then gave a speech praising the progress that Santa Elena was making in building a vibrant community. The outgoing Mayor made a speech listing all of his accomplishments and thanking SEPA for their steadfast support in funding scholarships and the “Women’s Center.” Finally, the dance began complete with a hired disk jockey and strobe lights. The dancing went on until 2:00 or 3:00 o’clock in the morning.

In Copal AA we met with the Village Council ( called the COCODE) to learn about local governance and the challenges they faced as a Mayan Community of returned refugees. We also met with the governing board of the middle school. Since the middle school does not receive any funding from the government, they have to solicit other groups and individuals to find the necessary money to operate and provide a school for students not only in Copal AA, but also in the surrounding region. They have asked SEPA for a contribution of $8,000 this academic year.

On another day we took a field trip down the Chixoy River in a long 30 foot boat powered by a 50 horsepower outboard motor. Our specific purpose was to explore an area where the river, which is normally about 150 feet wide, narrows to about 15 feet with solid rock canyon walls on both sides. Here the current becomes very swift. We parked the boat before entering the canyon, climbed the rocks and viewed the canyon from above the river.

Dramatic Increase

Over the past two years SEPA has been able to dramatically increase support to the communities of Santa Elena and Copal AA by 45%. This investment funds scholarships, teacher salaries and various projects requested by the communities.

This increase has been made possible by an equally dramatic increase in fundraising. Sales at the market booth have increased by 50%, the B&B program by 5% and donations from individuals and community organizations by an amazing 200%.

Thanks to ALL of you who have given SO generously.

SEPA is a 501c3 tax exempt organization. 95% of all funds raised by SEPA go directly to projects in Guatemala.

You may donate through Just Give or by check to:


192 Forest St.

Oberlin, OH 44074


Contact SEPA

Questions about any of SEPA's projects:

Email or call Barbara - (440) 774-1804

Remove your name from SEPA's email/mailing list

SEPA on the Web:

Highlights con't:

Our trip ended at one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Atitlan. We spent a weekend swimming in the bluest, clearest water I have ever seen. Facing our hotel were two giant dormant volcanoes. The entire lake is surrounded by mountains. The depth of the lake in places is over a 1000 feet. We found a wonderful place to swim with a platform about 25 feet above the water. Just high enough to make you think twice before you jumped off.

Language Lessons

Always time for a hug

Dance of the Deer in the

new Women's Center

Winter Term Delegation & Friends