Transforming lives with Internet in rural Guatemala
Internet is admittedly spotty in this rural area of Tecpan, Guatemala. We still use and depend on it daily but there have been a fair share of Skype calls that have gone unfinished due to poor connection. That is why we are so excited that one of our original supporters has committed to installing a strong Internet signal this fall that will beam across the valley from a neighbouring village.
Currently, locals from Chivarabal have to travel 8 km into Tecpan to access the Internet. With our powerful Internet connection in place, we will have the resources to set up our next social enterprise: a computer lab in our fully-funded Administration building which will boast 5 computers. It will be an Internet café for locals to use and a learning centre for our mothers and children.
We envision this tool as one of the best ways for locals, our mothers and the children to learn English, which is an enormous advantage in Guatemala considering its thriving, growing tourism industry. There are a variety of free online programs for learning English, and we also see a unique opportunity to connect our mothers with volunteers abroad to learn through a one-to-one conversational English program. This is necessary since we expect that some of the mothers will be illiterate. Can you imagine helping to teach a Guatemalan woman English from across the world? I see this as an incredibly rewarding volunteer opportunity!
Meanwhile, we will be digitally empowering the women to use the Internet to enhance their own vocational skills so they will have a stable means to provide for their families after leaving the Village. The first social enterprise we began with the mothers is felting, and they have already created some beautiful pieces which are being sold in Canada. I use the Internet with the mothers to share examples of interesting and creative felting projects through websites such as Pinterest and Etse. We are actually creating new products that didn’t exist before in Guatemala because of Internet inspiration!
Our children will also have supervised Internet time to help with their homework and to research what they are interested in. To have computer skills and access to the Internet’s wealth of global information is an enormous advantage for children in this part of the world. We believe the Internet has the potential to be a key factor in our families’ transformation out of poverty into a sustainable livelihood.