Thursday, June 30, 2011

Special Education School

Today I went to the special needs school in Nebaj. In Guatemala, people with disabilities are complete outcasts from society. Some parents will even tie their children up on the porch because they don’t want to deal with them or don’t have time to deal with them. About 10 years ago, an American named Popi (his real name is Donald... not quite sure where the name Popi came from) started a special needs school here. Side note- Popi owns a restaurant in Nebaj that has the best apple pie in the world. Who would have thought that the best apple pie ever would be in the middle of nowhere in Guatemala? Anyways, there are about 40 students from age 2-46, and only 2 teachers. We are working on creating an internship program (for college students studying special education and recent graduates) that would allow these students to come down here for the summer to work with the school. They are in desperate need of some help and funding. Not only are there 46 students, but their disabilities are across the board; down syndrome, autism, blindness, muteness, and the physically disabled. With only 2 teachers, many of the children don’t get the attention that they need. We went today and played with the kids for a while. We bounced around basketballs, helped students with their work, and showed them how to take pictures. Afterwards, we talked with Popi and Margarita (one of the teachers) about the internship program and what we can do to help them. They were really receptive to the idea. We also talked to them about planting some vegetable seeds in their small garden for the kids to take care of and eventually be able to eat. They are already learning how to make jewelry, paint, and cook. The teachers are teaching them with the hope that someday they will be able to be independent. We are creating a website for the school as well, which will include more information, the school's mission, and a place for people to donate. It is a little overwhelming because there is SO much to do and we are only able to work with them for a day or two, but we both really want to continue working with the school back in the States.

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