Overcoming Poverty

Nelson Mandela once said, “Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity, but an act of justice. Like slavery or apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

Over the last several weeks our staff in Guatemala has had the honor of attending a number of school graduation ceremonies and this  year we have seen 26 of our scholarship students graduate from high school. These students are from rural villages where the percentage of young people who graduate from high school is less than 1%. These bright and motivated young people will be the future leaders in their villages, part of the generation that continues the fight against political corruption in Guatemala, and engaged in the struggle to attain equal rights for all its peoples.


Our scholarship students come from humble beginnings. Their parents are often illiterate and work in the fields, earning only around $2.00-3.00 per day. Without the assistance of Avivara and its donors, these students would not have had the opportunity to attend and complete high school and thus help decrease the level of economic vulnerability of their families.

How can we help more young people and their families achieve this same success? Only with the help of our donors. We are now six weeks into our annual Fall Appeal and to date have raised 74% of our goal of $36,000 to help fund our programs in 2017. If you have not yet contributed this year, now is the time to act!

Donations can be made by sending a check to our treasurer at Avivara, 7202 33rd NW, Seattle, WA 98117 (please be sure to include your email address on your check), or by donating online at: http://www.avivara.org/donate/donateonline.html

Wishing you a happy upcoming Thanksgiving, and hoping we all survive the U.S. elections with our minds and souls still intact,

The Staff and Board of Avivara



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Are we there yet?

At last count, Avivara was at 97% of its fundraising goal for 2015. In years past our donors have helped the children and teachers of Guatemala in so many ways.

As Odilia Taquira Tum, the director of the school in Panibaj, said in a letter to us, “Without the help of Avivara, none of our students would have had the resources to help with their learning. Many would have not come to school if the books and supplies had not been there for them.”

Another teacher from the school in Xeatzan Alto, Francisca Chirix Quiej, told us, “It was Avivara’s support in establishing our school library that helped our students develop a love and desire for reading.”

Finally, Lesley Karina, one of our scholarship students currently enrolled in medical school at the University of San Carlos wrote this to us in an email, “I am writing this day to thank you for all the things you do in my life. It is so hard to believe, but so beautiful to know, that in this world there still exist people who help other people even when it is not their responsibility.”

We feel that our donor’s contributions in the past have come from a desire to help others overcome the obstacles that have blocked them from reaching their full potential, and from the belief that education provides a dignified and peaceful pathway out of poverty.

Every donation we receive, no matter how large or small, goes a long way to improve education and make it more accessible for the young people of Guatemala. We are hoping you can find it in your heart to donate this year. You can make your tax deductible contribution by sending a check to our Seattle office at:

Avivara, 7202 33rd Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117

Or by donating online at: http://www.avivara.org/donate/donateonline.html

Girls with pencils-Hope Medium Web view

Wishing you much happiness, peace and goodwill,

Gary A. Teale, Executive Director, Avivara


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Everybody Loves Pizza

Everybody Loves Pizza

Enjoy yourself, and support Avivara at the same time. On Wednesday, October 21st, Paxti’s Pizza in Ballard (Seattle), will be hosting an all-day fund-raising event for Avivara. 10% of all sales that day; dine-in, take-out, delivery, or catering order will go to support the educational programs of Avivara in Guatemala. Come with friends and family for a festive evening.

Paxti’s Pizza is located at 5323 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle WA. Our Avivara staff will be there to greet folks and answer questions. In addition, our special guest, Vilma Esperanza Raxon Chile, one of Avivara’s Guatemalan scholarship students will also be there to thanks folks for supporting her in achieving her educational dreams.

Vilma and young cow

NO SEAHAWKS GAME on Sunday, October 25th. I’d like to think it was because Avivara is hosting a Guatemala Solidarity Walk on that day at Greenlake in North Seattle from 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM.  Come join us for a healthy afternoon of walking around the lake with friends and family. Our Avivara staff, board and Vilma will be there to chat with folks. We will also have Guatemalan coffee, hand-crafted items from Guatemala, and Solidarity T-shirts for sale. All proceeds going to support Avivara’s scholarship program. we will have two booths at the lake. One at the SW corner near the canoe/kayak center, and one at the NE corner near the Greenlake Community Center and Pool.

Two great events. Come one, come all, to one or both.

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What Child is This?

Guate Madonna8x10A child is born in a small village on the outskirts of the world’s most powerful empire. The family is humble and with few resources. Sound familiar?

Merry Christmas from Avivara and Guatemala.

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

With all of its problems and challenges (crime, poverty, crop failure from global warming, government ineffectiveness, etc.) Guatemala is still one of the happiest countries in the world. In fact, with a HPI score of 56.9, it is ranked the 10th happiest country in the world according to the Happy Planet Index.

Happy Central America Medium Web view“The Happy Planet Index measures what really matters – long and happy lives now and the potential for good lives in the future. For too long we have relied on incomplete measures of progress that focus only on economic activity, such as GDP,” stated the creator of the Happy Planet Index.

So where do the world’s nations rank on the Happy Planet Index? Costa Rica ranks number one with an overall HPI score of 64.1. The least happy country in 2014 was Botswana. Despite having a low ecological footprint, the devastatingly low life expectancy of 53.2 years and very negative feedback from those who live there result in the country only receiving a 22.6 HPI score.

With a HPI score of 37.3, The United States of America comes in 105th place, due to a blood red colored ecological footprint score of 7.2 (the higher the score, the worse a country’s performance). Looks like the United States has some catching up to do.

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Malnutrition in Guatemala


Malnutrition Medium Web viewPBS has been running a series of videos about malnutrition in Guatemala. This video (click on link above) has a pretty good description of the problem. However, the Minister of Food Security in Guatemala says that poverty is not the issue (we beg to differ) and the Alliance For Nutrition (a group of powerful businessmen) seems more intent on the money that is being lost due to lower productivity, than actually being concerned about the lives of the children affected.

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The Rain in Guatemala….Sometimes Doesn’t Seem to Stop

Three Tropical Depressions in a Row

In this case I am not talking about personal bouts of unhappiness, but about the effects of three serious and consecutive storms that hit the western coasts of Guatemala and Mexico over the last two weeks.

Highway Inter-Americana damaged by rain and mudslides.

Highway Inter-Americana damaged by rain and mudslides.

With rivers swollen to overflowing, bridges knocked out and major highways closed due to mudslides, many villages of Guatemala were “incommunicado” (people unable to come or go unless on foot or horseback.) In our own village of San Cristobal, the only road in and out of the village was blocked for several days by mudslides and fallen trees.

After being here for eight years, we are fairly accustomed to heavy rains during the Guatemalan rainy season, but this year “El Nino” seems to be particularly strong, bringing with it warm tropical air that translates into torrential rains. Yesterday, we traveled into Guatemala City to purchase supplies. As we traveled through the city streets, traffic was backed up in many places as vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles) tried to find their way through deep streams flowing across the streets. More than once, we were completely blinded by the spray of water from passing trucks. In places we could see people walking knee-deep in water that was clearly contaminated with garbage and raw sewage. The stench was incredible. I am afraid this is what we will be witnessing more of in the future unless we, as a human species, find some way to counteract the global warming we are now experiencing. And as is typical, the well-off can usually find ways to avoid the most unpleasant aspects of this, but it is the poor who, unable to escape, will suffer the most.

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The Librarian

The Librarian

The children of El Yalu

While we struggle with facebook at times, and get a little tired of “LOL” dog and cat videos, on occasion the internet does provide something of value. This short video “The Librarian” is a touching look at how the 36 year long civil war affected people’s behavior in Guatemala, yet also describes how teachers, books and the internet are now helping Guatemalans open up and learn more about the world and their own culture.

It is a video well worth watching.

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International Day of the Girl

Nina de Paz MedwebviewToday is the International Day of the Girl and to celebrate, this issue of our blog will be focused on the young women of Guatemala. Admittedly, Guatemala still retains a high level of “machismo” and young women (especially indigenous women) still lag behind the young men in terms of cultural role expectations, access to education and social equality. But that is changing!

More and more in the schools we work with we see an increasing balance between the number of boys and girls who are completing sixth grade. In our own Avivara Scholarship program we are seeing an equal number of young women as young men go on to study at the secondary and university level.

In fact, next year we will be granting university scholarships to the following young women to pursue their studies in:

  • Clara, Nursing
  • Luz Elidia, Accounting
  • Lidia Esther, Hotel Administration
  • Lesli Karina, Medical School
  • Dulce Maria, Counseling/Psychology
  • Ana Carolina, Dental Hygiene
  • Erica Jimena, Clinical Psychology
  • Miriam Areceli, Teacher (Biology)

These young women represent the future of Guatemala and are expanding the role expectations for the young girls in their villages. Thank you to our donors who have helped to fund their education.

If you would like to help us continue this kind of support for the young women of Guatemala, please visit the donate page on our website. Your contribution will help us make a difference in their lives and impact the future of the other young girls in their villages.

In honor of all young women around the world seeking to expand their opportunities and fighting against injustice:

One book, one child

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Do You Love Me?

Do you love meWhether it is Tevye asking Golde in “Fiddler on the Roof” or The Contours asking the same question since 1962, we all like to have it confirmed that we are loved.

So this is a special request going out to all you late-night listeners in FM radioland (and social media.) If you have “loved” Avivara over the last several years, we are asking that you write a review of our organization on the Great NonProfits website. If we receive 10 or more positive reviews (a 4 or a 5) before the end of October, Avivara will be ranked as one of 2013’s top-rated nonprofits. We promise it won’t take long (5-8 minutes.) There are already 25 reviews on the site which will give you some ideas on what you could write. 

IMGP1838-MBy doing this small and simple task, you will be helping us to further establish our reputation as a “Great Nonprofit” and enhance our ability to serve more children and teachers here in Guatemala.

So, click here to write your review. You won’t regret it. (And we will very much appreciate it.)

(Note: If you haven’t volunteered with us, that’s OK, when it asks your “role” with Avivara you can write your review as a donor or general member of the public.)

Thank you for doing this for the teachers and students in Guatemala,

The Team at Avivara

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