In Guatemala, over a million children are not in school — one in 28, according to a UNESCO educational report. Many kids are working to support their families, while others would go to school if their parents could afford the fees. Although primary school in Guatemala is ostensibly free and compulsory, only thirty percent of students who begin school finish the six years of primary school. While school is theoretically free, in reality, there are high registration fees, costs for materials such as textbooks, and more, putting even basic education outside of the realm of possibility for many families. Those who drop out are disproportionately rural and from indigenous families, just like the ten students who are receiving scholarships through Unique Batik.
Thanks to your purchases from Unique Batik, ten children who could have been part of these dire statistics made it to school last year. Ten students at a rural school in the mountainous state of Solola , Guatemala, received scholarships through Unique Batik to continue their primary and middle school education. The group, composed mostly of girls, all come from families with limited economic resources who would otherwise be unable to provide an education for their children.
Because they know it isn’t always guaranteed, these children value education and see it as a bridge to a better future for themselves and their families. Recently, we received a packet of thank you cards from Pedro, the local scholarship coordinator, which contained three handmade notes from scholarship recipients. Pedro also sent pictures of the students and the school. In their pictures, the girls, dressed in the traditional Mayan costume of embroidered blouses and a woven wrap skirt bisected by a wide belt of woven fabric, stare seriously at the camera, but their solemnity at having their pictures taken is belied by the sparkly stickers and hand drawn flowers that decorate their letters. The hand drawn strawberries, glittery stickers, and rows of fanciful flowers and a carefully cut out scalloped edge, express the pride and creativity of the girls who made them.
In a country with the second lowest literacy rate in the Western Hemisphere, simply being able to write a thank you note is a great achievement. Indigenous women are the most marginalized population in the country, with a literacy rate of only thirty percent. This is the group from whom we buy most of our handicrafts, and the ones we aim to help with our scholarship program. The education they are receiving has allowed these girls to dream of a life different from the one their parents have led; they can conceive of a bigger world, filled with opportunity. Filomena writes that she hopes to achieve her dreams of being a successful professional, and Elena anticipates finishing middle school, an accomplishment made by only the top third of the population.
If the statistics seem overwhelming, remember that you can make a difference. You have made a difference. The support of Unique Batik customers has changed the narrative for at least ten kids. We couldn’t express our gratitude any better than they did: