As a new student to Kids Alive’s Source of Hope School, 10-year-old Susana’s schooling experience is very different from her fellow students who had joined before the pandemic. While all the other students had started school in a classroom, Susana’s experience began with distance learning. It involved the 4th grader’s parents going to her school weekly to pick up her study packet and drop off her schoolwork.

El Zapote (red marker) is 50 miles from Guatemala City (Courtesy Google Maps)

Susana is from El Zapote, where Source of Hope School provides education to at-risk children. Though only 50 miles from Guatemala’s capital, Guatemala City, El Zapote is in the mountains and hence described as “remote” and “isolated.” It is also why Kids Alive provides much-needed education to children like Susana in this area.

On its surface, life in El Zapote seems normal, but in fact all is not well here. While its isolation protected El Zapote’s community from a severe incidence of COVID-19, it did not shield it from the economic downturn that followed on the heels of the pandemic. Already poor, the closing of and restrictions on businesses and other institutions added to the local people’s hardships.

School closures impacted students like Susana, who lives with her mother, siblings, and grandparents in a modest house made of concrete with a corrugated tin roof. “Learning from home is hard because I cannot ask my teachers for help, and a lot of the time, my mom cannot help either,” says Susana. But she also sees God working in her life and the lives of those around her. “I thank God that my family is healthy and that I can learn.”

Recently, Source of Hope reopened its doors to students. For two hours a week, each grade is allowed to come and study with their teachers. While this is still a far cry from a “normal” school day before COVID, we are thankful that we can make progress toward broader face-to-face and in-person contact!
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