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Orillia group steps up efforts to alleviate poverty in Guatemela (5 photos)

This is the 13th year local Paso Por Paso volunteers travelled to Guatemela to support the region's students
This year marked the 13th year an Orillia group, Paso Por Paso, continued their work to alleviate poverty in Guatemala particularly in the chosen area of Panajachel and Tierra Linda. These communities are in the Lake Atitlan region, about a three-hour drive west of Guatemala City.

In February, nine Orillia Paso Por Paso board members headed to Panajachel accompanied by eight friends and supporters.

On the first full day, we met with the sponsored students for a Valentine making session. Each student made a valentine for his or her sponsor and received several photographs which were taken during last year’s visit.

The students were also provided with new shoes for the school year and received a variety of food items for the family.

On Valentine’s Day, we attended a presentation at the Tierra Linda School. The new roof financed last year by Paso Por Paso allowed it to double as a wonderful open-air auditorium space.

The students were anxious to present lively and very traditional dance, poetry and storytelling performances for the Paso members.

One of the most profound and enjoyable aspects of our time in Guatemala is when we are welcomed into our students' homes in Panajachel, Tierra Linda, San Jorge  and San Antonio.

Some of those homes were a real climb, but it was rewarding to see the extent to which the students and their families appreciated our interest and our presence.

Saturday afternoon was spent with the past and present Canada Mayan Scholarship recipients at a local restaurant. Paso sponsors students to attend university. There are two students currently obtaining their degrees in teaching and nursing.

During the second week, we presented 55 women with microloans. They have a variety of businesses for which they need the monies. These range from growing onions and vegetables to raising chicken for market or eggs, to weaving, beading, embroidery, running shops and making and selling tortillas.

The Paso members also had an opportunity to visit with some of the women in order to learn more about their businesses and the impact it is having on their lives.

Fundraising is necessary to finance all of the activities Paso Por Paso is involved with.

The next fundraising event will be a craft sale at the Orillia Farmers' Market on Saturday, April 20. Paso members bring back a wide variety of Guatemalan crafts which are sold in the local area.

Crafts will also be available at the annual Pancake Brunch at St. Paul’s Centre on Sunday, April 28. All are welcome to attend.

The Annual plant sale and the Perennial plant sale are also happening in May. Check our blog or Facebook page for more details.

Visit our website for more information about Paso Por Paso. Access to our blog can be made from the home page.



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