Education4Change - Part 5

March 17, I will once again be joining an amazing group of individuals from the Buffalo Grove Rotary on a trip to Ak ‘Tenamit.  Ak'Tenamit, which means "New Village" in the Q'eqchi' language, is a development project in Eastern Guatemala on the Dulce River that includes  a rural, secondary boarding school recognized both nationally and internationally for its innovative educational program.
28006286_15196259400_r.jpeg28006286_15196259520_r.jpegDaily transport to / from school site

As in past years, this week holds endless learning opportunities for so many.  Opportunities to interact and work side-by-side with numerous students, teaching skills to make the capital improvements at their school, teaching English, learning about the Mayan culture and creating memories with some of the most intelligent, resourceful, resilient and loving teenagers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Many of these amazing students have been away from their families for months, thus the opportunity to grasp every moment spent with us, learning English, learning a new trade on how to improve their living conditions and sustain their school and villages... is priceless.  

Objectives for 2018 For over twenty years, the Rotary has worked hand-in-hand with the directors and students to improve the functionality, sanitation and well-being of their campus environment.  Every minute of service and dollar invested impacts the lives of rural indigenous people and creates a legacy of hope for breaking the cycle of poverty.  The students come from many remote villages to receive their only opportunity for an education beyond the sixth grade.  Besides providing a secondary education, Ak' Tenamit provides most of the students their first experience to sleep in a bed; eat three meals a day, have acess to medical and dental care, learn about their cultural history and to share knowledge, best practices and experiences with the other students.
28006286_15196261720_r.jpegWith the school located in the middle of the rain forest there is constant upkeep.  As in past years, projects are identified as immediate needs for the school.  This year a team of 30 will tackle some of the following projects.
-  adding railings and anti-slip tread to the girl’s restrooms
- creating a pathway/stairway to the girl's laundry and bathing facility
-  repairing dorm banisters
-  building work tables and cubbies
-  creating breakout huts 
-  building a bench/ seating area for the students on the side of the technical arts building (built in 2016)
-  building and installing information signs to encourage donations, as the school is viewed as a eco tour  
-  agricultural seeding building to assist in a sustainable avenue for better nutrition
- repairing outdoor sports area
28006286_15196262130_r.jpeg28006286_15196262930_r.jpeg2018 FOCUS
Like past years, particular projects are identified as higher priorities.  This year rebuilding the girl’s laundry and bathing facility, which was damaged a couple years ago, will be my focus in raising funds; along with solar lights and water filters for a local village.

Thousands have lived without love… not one has lived without water – W.H. Auden

Over 780 million people do not have access to clean water.  That is more than 1 out of every 10 people worldwide… or more than twice the population of the United States. The majority of these individuals live in isolated rural areas and spend hours every day walking to collect water from a stream or river for their family. Not only does this restricts  kids from attending school but also consumes many income earning hours.  In addition, the water collected often carries many waterborne viruses and diseases.  
-  An estimated 800,000 children younger than 5 years of age perish from diarrhea each year, mostly in developing countries. This amounts to 11% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under the age of five and means that about 2,200 children are dying every day as a result of diarrheal diseases.
-   Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases
-    Water, sanitation and hygiene has the potential to prevent at least 9.1% of the global disease burden and 6.3% of all deaths. The impact of clean water technologies on public health in the U.S. is estimated to have had a rate of return of 23 to 1 for investments in water filtration and chlorination during the first half of the 20th century.
-   Clean water reduces diarrhea morbidity by 21%; and the simple act of washing hands at critical times can reduce the number of diarrhea cases by as much as 35%. Improvement of drinking-water quality, would lead to a 45% reduction of diarrhea episodes.28006286_15196263270_r.jpegGIRLS LAUNDRY & BATHING FACILITY:
Prior to attending the school, a young girl is given the responsibility of doing the family laundry,  which is often done in a river or stream.  Several years ago, a laundry and bathing facility was built at Ak'Tenamit to provide a cleaner option for the girls in doing laundry as well as bathing.  More than two years ago, the facility was damaged when a tree fell on the structure and deemed it too dangerous for use; forcing the girls to return to the river to do laundry and bathe in non potable water. 
This year additional funds raised will be dedicated to repairing this facility as well as creating a water collection system that will provide a cleaner and healthier environment for the girls.
28006286_15196265470_r.jpeg28006286_15196265550_r.jpegDamage to laudry and bathing facility

Water filters
As in past years, we will venture into the jungle to a remote village where one of the student’s families reside.  Water filters and solar lights will be distributed to families residing in the village.  One water filter will provide clean water for a family for up to 5 years and comes at a cost of $25 each.  One water filter will likely save TWO lives. (Equivalent to one week of Starbucks.)

28006286_15196265860_r.jpegWater filters

Solar Lights
Each village has a limited light source, often provided by wood a burning fireplace / stove within the tin or thatch roof building they call home.  This type of fire source produces carcinogenic fumes.    
A couple years ago, the Rotary located a supplier that manufactures solar lights for a low cost of $5 each. (one Starbucks) ONE solar light will provide an additional 6 hours of clean energy productivity each day to learn and work.
28006286_15196266270_r.jpegSolar light distribution to the village
28006286_15196266600_r.jpegWood burning stove in living quarters
28006286_15196267920_r.jpegNewborn baby warmed by coal
All donations are tax deductible.  A receipt will be generated immediately after a donation is completed.  NOTE:  If your company offers a match program, details are noted below:

P.O Box 3636, Tequesta, Florida,

Tax ID#:  65-0305897
Phone:  [phone redacted]
[email redacted]

To learn more about Ak’Tenamit…. Please visit
The Guatemalan Tomorrow Fund, a US-based non-profit (501 C-3) raises funds, manages student sponsor program and provides logistical support for Ak' Tenamit. 

Prior to founding Ak’ Tenamit in 1992, Steve Dudenhoefer owned a successful interior-scaping business in South Florida. In 1990, he decided to visit Guatemala to discover why many of his employees, Mayans from Guatemala, had immigrated to the US to work and sent every penny they earned back home. He met people who lived on $1 a day, children without schools, mothers without vital medicine for their babies among many other challenges. Deeply affected by this experience, he returned home, sold his businesses and started Asociación Ak’ Tenamit in 1992 with the help of local village leaders. Ak’ Tenamit is an indigenous community development promoting long-term solutions to poverty in the rainforests of eastern Guatemala through education, healthcare, income-generation, and cultural programs run by and for Q’eqchi Mayan Indians.  Many of the modern conveniences such as running water, electricity, even roads do not exist.
Today Ak’ Tenamit is run entirely by the Q’eqchi people, and Steve remains involved as Chief Technical Adviser, assisting managers and the Board but concentrating on fundraising and networking.

Indigenous Mayans make up half the population of Guatemala.  Most live in rural villages without roads, electricity or running water.  In Guatemala alone, only 5% of Indigenous girls finish the 6th grade.   When a girl turns 12 and lives in poverty, her future is out of her control.  In many eyes she is considered a woman now.  By the age of 13 or 14 she will marry and could have anywhere from 4 to 6 children by the time she is 20 years old and sadly continuing the cycle of poverty.  Not the life you imagined for a 12-year-old girl.  Ak’ Tenamit offers a solution to this cycle of poverty by providing health care and a secondary education to over 500 students.  Ak’ Tenamit is a rural, secondary boarding school which includes a middle school and a three-year vocational high school.  It is nationally and internationally recognized by the United Nations for its innovative program. The curriculum is adapted to the needs, interests and culture of students learning in a rural context, and complemented by classroom learning with practical work experience. Together, the curriculum and work-study programs prepare students to succeed in today’s job market and enable the students to make headway towards reducing poverty in their communities. Graduates represent a new generation of indigenous youth who think critically, are computer literate, bilingual, trained in practical skills and committed to preserving their culture.   

The school began with 6 students and has since grown to over 500, with 500 more on a waiting list, from over 100 remote villages. Most of the girls in attendance will be the first girls in their families to study past the 6th grade and graduation from school.
 28006286_15196270510_r.jpegGraduating class
28006286_15196270790_r.jpegTypical classroom
  • Robert Butler 
    • $100 
    • 42 mos
  • Lisa McCarthy 
    • $100 
    • 42 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $250 
    • 43 mos
  • Jill Haagenson  
    • $50 
    • 43 mos
  • Ann Granquist 
    • $50 
    • 43 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Stephanie Boelhauf 
Chicago, IL
Suzanne Cordero 
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