Proyecto Fe has always made an emphasis on the importance of the communication between the child and the sponsor because it builds them both up spiritually and emotionally. That is why we aim to keep them in as constant communication as time, distance and circumstances allow. Every year, we target for the sponsor to receive at least 2 letters from their child, a postcard with an updated photo and a Christmas card with the Christmas photo. There are a lot of elements involved in the process: letter translations, photo taking and editing, designing, printing and so forth. For the two letters written by the student, I print the format and they are given to the teachers. The letters are usually written at school, during class, with their room teacher. I collect them, translate them and send them to the PF office in Alaska; from they are mailed to your home or PO Box. The letter campaigns dates are planned at the beginning of each year.
Well, this year, with the pandemic, we had a hurdle before us. The school has been closed since mid-March, not all the students live in San Pedro and not everyone has access to the internet. How could we get the kids to write their letter without exposing them to the virus? We waited for a few weeks to see how things would pan out, but the restrictions kept getting tighter. So, I asked the Lord for a way to do this and the answer came through Pam and the work the teachers were doing. The directors and teachers in preschool and elementary areas had set up a system to deliver school assignments to the kids’ homes, so the letter format was included amongst the material, the elementary teachers prepared a video lesson on letter writing, distributed it amongst the students via WhatsApp and the assignment was to write a letter to their sponsors. For Preschool, in order for the sponsors to receive a more personal letter, we asked the children to make a drawing and briefly explain it. The teachers collected the letters, checked them and gave them to Pam to give to me. It sounds easy but it took over a month! With Middle school, we had a different system. Parents were requested to come to the school to pick up the letter format on an assigned day and to bring the written letter back a couple of days later. Both days I was at the school, on a desk by the front door to be specific, giving out and then collecting letters. For those students living out of San Pedro, it was established they could send the letter via WhatsApp or email.
Finally, the letters had been written. We were able to reach 95% of the students. And part two of the process began: translating them all.
San Pedro is still under tight restrictions. The virus is spreading at a very fast speed around Guatemala. Every day many people die. I am sure this is like what you have experienced in your country, yet, it only makes it more shocking. We are in the fifth month of quarantine and curfews. Children barely leave their house. The impact this situation is causing in children is directly proportional to the level of anxiety they are experiencing because they do not know what the future will bring. They do not know when they will be back at school, when can they visit grandpa and grandma, or when can they play sports again with their team. All of them have, at this point, experienced the effects of the pandemic – a sick relative, a parent losing their job, school at home… But one effect of the pandemic remains positive… how much time families are spending together. Around 80% of the letters translated convey this message. Many of the students find the family experience more valuable than how tight their economy is. Many write about how much fun it is to have dad playing board games with them more often than usual, or the fact that mom has more time to teach cooking tricks, but, their favorite family activity is prayer and devotional times. So, maybe we need to look at this pandemic with the eyes of a child. Maybe we need to go back to family life basics and do more of playing together, reading together, cooking together, praying together… growing together. It is no secret how badly the economy will be affected and how this will impact families negatively. It is no secret that these kids’ lives will be more affected than we wish, but, let us hold tight to God’s promises upon the lives of His children, let us pray that those family moments of prayer and laughter become a solid foundation from where they will draw strength in time of need.
Thank you for sponsoring, praying and writing to your child. It is making a difference.