Last year The Joanna Brown Trust donated sports equipment worth over £1,000 to Escuela Proyecto La Esperanza, a school in Guatemala, Central America. In 2012 we strengthened our link with the school by donating over £7,000 to fund the construction of changing rooms and showers for the pupils.
The school is run by the charity Education for the Children and located in a very poor community in Jocotenango, just outside Antigua in Guatemala. It has over 500 pupils, ranging from reception class to university scholarship students. In Jocotenango, most of the families live in very basic accommodation – many in corrugated shacks with mud floors. EFTC's school plays a vital role in bringing hope to the community, not only by helping the poorest of children to get an education they could never afford otherwise, but also by providing school meals and opportunities to play outside and get involved in team sports.
In August 2012 Helen Hagan, a trustee of The Joanna Brown Trust, visited the school with her fiancé Chris Sudall. Helen and Chris met the teachers and pupils, learnt how the school is playing an ever-greater part in the community and even tested out the sports equipment in a spirited game of football with sports teacher Ronaldo and one of the primary school classes. They were able to see at first-hand how valuable EFTC's work is and to check out the plans for the much-needed changing rooms and showers. Although just a rudimentary changing facility with cold water showers, it will be of enormous practical benefit to the school and help improve standards of hygiene.
Helen said, "It was a privilege to be able to visit the school as a representative of Joanna's charity to see how much it offers to a community which has so little. The staff are dedicated to improving the lives of these children, many of whom would otherwise be begging or working. From the kitchen workers who source locally grown fruit and vegetables from local businesses so that they can provide free, healthy school meals to the co-ordinators who run the 'safehouse' for pupils who have been through the most suffering and hardship at home, the staff we met inspired us to support them. The school is focusing more and more time on extra-curricular activities and the kids clearly love being outdoors in their break times and PE lessons. Health and hygiene remains a big problem in poor communities like Jocotenango and we hope that the facility being built in Joanna's name will allow the school to take some valuable steps towards addressing that problem."
Rhiannon Tuck, Development Coordinator for EFCT said, “Our wonderful new sports facility, complete with showers and changing rooms, is almost finished and we’re all very excited! The Joanna Brown Trust helped us to expand our sports programme last year which has given our students more confidence and taught them new skills – they love sport and the chance to play and be children. This new project will mean that the kids will have the facilities to change and shower afterwards which will help us to teach them good hygiene and personal care. The majority of our children don’t have access to running water at home so this will be so much more than a sports facility, it will help them to stay healthy, build their confidence and encourage the fostering of pride. We are so over the moon to have the support of The Joanna Brown Trust again this year, thank you so much from all the children in Guatemala and everyone at EFTC“.