PARAGUAY, Verónica Gutiérrez •
For many schools in South America, the month of March signals the return to classes. Summer is over, and the days are growing cooler. In their own way, every country prepares in beginning a new school year, and Paraguay is no exception, but it is in a special case: Dequení. —
The Dequení Foundation works to protect and care for vulnerable children. It was born out of a group of young Schoenstatt members that organized activities in the streets, and then it grew into a significant educational project supporting children from poor backgrounds. Teachers work within the classrooms in more than thirty schools in approximately five districts.
The school year began last week in the best way and with great energy: with music, dances, and games for the children. In Ypané, Graciela Meza, director of the school, addressed some words to the children and youths: “Do not neglect the studies, give them your all, do not lose that enthusiasm, because the future can only be more secure with education.” Representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science also participated, including the area’s pedagogical supervisor, Dilma Martínez de Samudio, along with teachers and directors from Dequení.
The other schools also had special activities for celebrating the first day of classes and welcoming children.
Contribution of the volunteers
Andreza Ortigoza, the Dequení Foundation’s director, spoke with Radio Hoy. She related how this journey had been so special, about the support that the teachers and educators provide in the different schools, where they participate. Ortioza related how they prepared for this year’s start of classes, painting classrooms, especially those in the first cycle. Furthermore they tried improving the lighting and fixing up the classrooms so they looked pretty. As the children arrived, they carried out activities. Some volunteers collaborated with educational materials and others came dressed in costumes.
This year, the Foundation is focusing on early-childhood and in supporting these children, to stimulate them and help their mothers raise them far from any violence in order to prepare a good foundation, so that later, they can welcome them in schools when they are older than five, and that they will be able to absorb the education being offered to them. The main thrust is in helping the education to be effective, being able to help the schools, and for the children to obtain knowledge, but also soft skills, such as working in a team. Other items include teaching older youths a trade, and giving the parents opportunities for work, by training them.
A lasting solution
“In Dequení, we are certain that poverty is conquered through education. We want children to come to school with the ability to learn and be able to relate, for the school to be an attractive place, that teachers are well-trained and good at teaching how to read and write. And for the children being able to read, write, comprehend, and express their ideas,” they affirmed from their social networks. Andreza explained that the volunteers are trained to support the teachers; they are taught about children’s rights, and they leave trained in these subjects that are reinforced in the classrooms.
This work can only happen thanks to the effort of volunteers. Some contribute money and others participate making educational materials, going to the schools, or carrying out other activities. Three or four people come together in support of a child, or like businesses that also support the cause as allies.
Institutional Webseite: www.dequeni.org.py
To make donations:
Original: Spanish. 7 March 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA