Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation Programs
Our goal is to give the next generation hope for a better life and access to the skills needed to attain it. Amigos support for education comes in many forms which include: Promotion of primary education via daily nutritional snacks to 400 students helping to ensure that all children have sufficient school supplies, support for teacher training for our primary school teachers, including sponsoring a teacher exchange program with our sister school in Pinckney MI Scholarship support for young adults for secondary and university level studies. We believe that the young people of Santa Cruz are the future hope of their community. Therefore, youth leadership development is a key priority for Amigos de Santa Cruz. We work with our scholarship students to promote community service projects, require participation in Sex Education workshops and sponsor annual youth leadership development workshops.
Women's Nutritional Education Centers
Guatemala has the 4th highest rate of chronic child malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America. The communities we serve are among the highest in malnutrition among children. Amigos has helped to establish women's nutrition centers in three remote villages where groups of 50 to 60 women plus their children ages 6 months to 5 years gather to prepare and receive healthy nutritional meals, vitamins and training on subjects that include family planning , health and hygiene. We work with a total of 160 women and 200 young children.
Centro de Capacitacion CECAP, Santa Cruz's new vocational education center, is our latest achievement and a great source of pride for everyone involved. In 2008, Amigos began to work hand in hand with the community to help envision, plan and build a 5,000 sq foot building that now houses workshops in carpentry, welding, computer education, sewing, weaving and cooking. CECAP began as a vision of a place where people young and old could come to learn new skills that could lead to meaningful work and a more prosperous community. Today, the center is the heart of the community, providing on-going training to adults and and youth in carpentry, sewing, computer education, foot loom weaving and welding.
The CECAP Artesania program provides CECAP graduates with paid work producing a variety of arts and crafts. Women are earning income for the first time in their lives thus building more financial security for families and increased self esteem among the women. With support from Seattle International Foundation, CECAP has initiated a local product development initiative which focuses on training individuals and students to gain the skills necessary to produce products that are then marketed both locally and internationally.
The CECAP Culinary Arts program trains young people for successful employment in the tourist business. In 2012 a student-run café opened and has been very successful to date
What makes CECAP unique is that is has always been a community-driven vision and not a government or outside organization project. Amigos is helping CECAP get started and become self sufficient .
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
The opening of CECAP , Santa Cruz's new 5,000 sq ft vocational education center is a great source of pride for Amigos as well as for everyone in Santa Cruz la Laguna. CECAP is the culmination of a vision that was born several years ago among Amigos and community leaders when the question was asked: “how can we provide educational opportunities that can lead to meaningful jobs in the future?”. In 2007, working in partnership with a local steering committee, Amigos de Santa Cruz set forth to help establish a permanent vocational education center that would serve the communities of Santa Cruz and neighboring villages for generations to come. CECAP houses classrooms and industrial shops to teach hands-on skills in carpentry, welding, industrial arts, sewing and weaving, cooking and baking. It houses our technology center where computer-based classes are taught to all students grades 4 through 9th as well as adult classes. Our Culinary Arts program began in January 2011 offering interested young adults a year long program that prepares them for meaningful employment in the growing restaurant and tourist business.100% of Culinary program graduates are currently employed in area restaurants and hotels. Our Artesania Program focuses on providing training to women in the community to acquire skills that help them become economically independent. CECAP is already helping pay for itself through student fees, outside agency partnerships, and revenues generated via a student-run restaurant and retail shop. We are excited about the future possiblities that CECAP offers. We envision it as an incubator for local industry and economic development where locally made products are produced and sold in both local and international markets helping to create a more vibrant economy for the people of Santa Cruz. Amigos and CECAP are very grateful for the support and confidence shown to us by the Seattle International Foundation, Rotary International, Miracles in Action and all the individual donors who helped make this dream come true.
The people we serve, our friends, and donors who know our work, know without a doubt that what we are doing is making a profound difference in the lives of the people of Santa Cruz la Laguna. we are a small but very committed organization that is well established and trusted. Our efforts at supporting education in all its forms is playing a critical role in the transformation of this small corner of the world. Young people are growing up healthier, better educated, more aware of their relationship to their environment, and their responsibility as citizens. They are taking a more active role helping to improve their community. They will have far fewer children, their incomes will be far greater, education will be a priority for their children, and they will be much more actively engaged in community issues than their parents ever were. The children we have watched grow up over the past 15 years are now the fruits of our first labors. They are teachers, accountants, librarians, social workers and office workers. They are the future leaders of thier communities. Their ability to think critically, to work collaboratively and to access information and solutions to community problems is already obvious. Amigos seeks on-going support for our programs. We are a small donor-supported organization, very rooted in the communities we work in. Our overhead costs are minimal, less that 5%. Money buys a lot in Guatemala and donations can go a long way in our hands. We seeks friends who believe in what we are doing and have the means to help us continue our work into the future. A little can go so far, and can help give us the means to continue and grow our programs. We welcome visitors to come see first hand how you can help make a big difference for the many who have so little. Your hearts will be touched.