December 23, 2016

Peña Blanca in 2016. What’s Happening Now?

This past year, we have continued to keep in touch with Rosa, Anthony and Chino, document their lives for future films, visit Peña Blanca to assess needs, and raise money for life changing projects through our partners Mayan Families and Whole Planet Foundation.

Thanks to generous donors and to the sales of our films, we’ve been able to raise over $520,000 for poverty alleviation programs. 

But beyond outputs, here are the outcomes we’ve achieved together this year, and a look at how they are affecting real people’s lives. If you’d like to continue supporting our work with another gift, please give here:

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Peña Blanca School Improvements

There are now two new classrooms in Peña Blanca! Education is a fundamental part of creating opportunity and empowering the next generation to learn critical thinking and receive Spanish lessons.

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Thanks to the L1 Peña Blanca Fund, each student now also gets access to clean water in every classroom and daily nutritious snacks and vitamins everyday. These might be small changes but they will make an important and lasting impact.

Preschool Nutrition Center Construction

After extensive conversations with local leaders and nonprofit partners in the area, we’ve begun construction on a new preschool nutrition center in Peña Blanca. While this is a digital sample of what it will look like, it should be ready for the class of 2017!

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The centers will allow 3 to 6 year olds to prepare for school, a difficult transition in any child’s life. The children will participate in bilingual education and other programs that aid in brain development. A nutritious meal, snack, daily vitamins, and regular anti-parasite treatments will also be provided. The key here is instilling good health and hygiene habits early.

Lastly, the new location will double as a community center from which we can pilot new and exciting vocational training programs, family planning courses, saving clubs and lending groups.

Water System

We are almost done with the installation of a new water infrastructure project. This is a big partnership with Mayan Families, World Centric, and Rotaract Chicago, that will reach over 1,000 community members. Mayan Families tells us it will be done by the end of the year.
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Microfinance

Of course micro loans are still a big part of our work! We have now helped over 6,400 people just like Rosa get reliable access to financial services to help improve their own lives. As we all know, providing opportunity is a fundamental step out of extreme poverty.

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Rosa started her second year of nursing school in 2016, and is getting hands-on experience working at the Mayan Families clinic. We thankfully have enough to fund the rest of her education completely (!!!) and have established the Rosa Scholarship Fund to help other women get a university education.

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Rosa also took the U.S. by storm this past year, getting on a plane for the first time and coming to the premiere of the film, Rosa – These Storms at the Washington West Film Festival. She was interviewed by NPR and congratulated in a blog by Melinda Gates; and did it all with a smile on her face. As always 🙂

Chino is all grown up!! He’s decided to stay in Guatemala City working at a tienda (corner store) and practicing his Spanish. Here’s a recent pic he snapped for his Facebook. Although he may never be a professional soccer player, his love for Messi & the Barcelona crew remains diehard.

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We speak with him frequently to help open up any opportunities we can, but he told us he’s proud to be supporting himself and his family. His sisters are all in Mayan Families’ Student Sponsorship Program and, thanks to the support of their sponsors, are excelling in their studies.

Anthony says he’s doing very well, and is still working for a hotel here in Panajachel. Much of his time is spent volunteering at his local Evangelical church, where he plays guitar in the church band. He still helps many others in the community, and counter to his plans, recently had another young girl, leaving him with even more mouths to feed. He’s looking to change careers, so we’re exploring options and connections to help in any way. All of the children in his family are sponsored and receive all the supplies and the fees they need to attend school.

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We will be traveling back to Peña Blanca in March, 2017, to visit programs, continue to film and visit all our friends. So stay tuned for updates on our Facebook and Instagram! These are the best places for news! Also please let us know before we go if there are any questions you have. Happy holidays from all of us and thanks for being a part of the Living on One family!