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Avivara

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Elementary & Secondary Schools, International, International Relief, Literacy, Promotion of International Understanding, Ukraine

Mission: To improve the quality of and access to education in Guatemala, and to cultivate interconnectedness between the peoples of Guatemala and the United States.

Results: 11 schools receiving grants for school improvement 0ver 60 students receiving scholarship assistance, with 18 attending university 2 after school learning centers

Target demographics: Children living in poverty-impacted villages in the highlands of Guatemala

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 1600 students in 13 village schools, provided scholarships to over 70 students, 17 of whom were attending university

Geographic areas served: Guatemala

Programs: 1. Grants for School Improvement in Guatemala 2. Guatemala Scholarship Program 3. After-School Learning Centers 4. Service and Study Abroad in Guatemala 5. U.S.-Guatemalan School-to-School Partnerships

Donor & Volunteer Advisory

This organization's nonprofit status may have been revoked or it may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.

Community Stories

85 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Caroline E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ann, Gary, and Gustavo are dedicated to the people of Guatemala. They create a relationship with the entire community - students, teachers, and families. They empower the community to determine the needs, set the priorities, and then assist where those needs are. Awesome organization dedicated to education and justice for all!

Writer

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered and donated for all the years of Avivara's existence, and been thrilled to see the leadership team tackle challenges with sensitivity and courage, most recently the June 2018 volcanic eruption that affected so many maize and coffee farmers on the slopes of Volcan Fuego. Avivara keeps its eyes on the mission: reducing inequity in Guatemala through education. I am glad that bright and motivated students have the chance to continue their studies despite the limitations of poverty because of Avivara.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Avivara has been dependable, thoughtful, transparent, and quietly radical since its inception. It is a team of only three who build relationships with rural schools and scholarship students over time, serving as mentors, sounding boards, and resource conduits, without imposing an external vision on the already capable and motivated people of Guatemala. It is thrilling to see freshly minted university graduates, confident high school students, and improving schools because of the work Avivara, its generous donors, and its hard working staff complete in Guatemala.

Chuck W.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Avivara is an impressive grassroots endeavor born out of Gary's and Ann's genuine commitment to be companions with Guatemalans seeking freedom from the bonds of poverty and illiteracy. I have visited with them several times in Seattle at teacher conventions and it is evident Avivara is a vocation of the heart, head and hands. Confident in their mission and trusting them as stewards of my donations, I support Avivara as financially able and encourage you to do the same. If you can't give by going - please go by giving; Avivara is making a positive difference in the world.

Donor

Rating: 5

What impresses me the most about Avivara is the clear focus of the team. They put in the work, the energy, the commitment for many years before they began Avivara. They did their homework and when circumstances came together they began something that is elegant in its simple direct way of helping. Helping some young people in Guatemala with the resources, the support, and the inspiration so that they can do their homework and rise to their best. I think that Avivara's efforts will bear fruit for generations to come.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We have seen great results with the scholarship students and the schools where Avivara works. They have built a network of local teachers, parents and administrators that focus on improvements to the schools and opportunities for the students. Their results include many students continuing their educations through college. This is significant in the rural Mayan villages and sets a model for students, families and the communities. They will make good use of any support they receive.

Donor

Rating: 5

I visited Antigua, Guatemala in February 2013. Gary, Ann and their daughter were kind enough to take me along when they went to help some of their kids with homework in an impoverished village outside of Antigua. One little girl of about nine years old was taking care of her two little siblings, and had essentially been kicked out of elementary school after having failed the first grade for several years. She was so excited to be able to study with Avivara and have a chance at finally being able to learn how to read. In an area where there is not support for children struggling in school Avivara is making a direct and positive impact on these children's lives.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I continue to be impressed with the work of Avivara to partner with local communities and evolve the work to make the most impact for education in areas facing many challenges. Avivara empowers the children and schools it sponsors, guaranteeing scholarships for children from elementary through college if desired. This improves literacy, education and enables youth to escape the cycle of poverty so many of them have been born into. Their infrastructure and sanitation improvements in schools also make a big impact. Your donation makes a big impact with this organization with 92.2% of all donations going directly to their programs. Keep up the great work, Avivara!

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

Avivara is a really special non-profit - a partnership between the people of US and Guatemala where education is promoted and students are empowered in some of the most impoverished and forgotten areas in rural Guatemala. On a programmatic level, Avivara listens to the Guatemalan communities it serves using its funds very expediently, always evolving and adjusting to the needs of the Guatemalan community it works in, including adjusting for natural disasters. When Avivara commits to providing a scholarship for a child, they support that child all the way through college, if desired. It is an honor and privilege to serve on the Board and I believe Avivara is a great model of how a multi-national grassroots NGO can make a strong impact with small but dedicated team and resource base.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Avivara's focus on education is so important to Guatemala. Not only are they supporting individual students to continue their education on through university, they are also providing support to public schools to provide a better education for those students that are not able to attend private schools. They are an excellent team and collaborate with others in the area, always with a focus on education. Their team has a positive spirit of supporting their students and families to do well. They come with an education background and love for the people.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have visited schools that Avivara works with and the work they do is lifesaving for the students they work with. Gary, Anne, and Gustavo know all of the students and teachers they support and work with families to make sure the scholarship students are successful. Many of their students would have no opportunity for education without Avivara.

Patricia K.

Donor

Rating: 5

The mission of Avivara: giving hope to the future through education. In the years our parish has contributed to Avivara and visited the schools in Guatemala that Avivara serves, we have seen this small nonprofit growing: in the number of schools it serves, the number of students being helped, the number of scholarships being offered. And all with a small staff of three and with a surprisingly small budget. Each time we had a question or needed some information, we received a quick response, usually within hours. The transparency of the finances is most appreciated as we invite parishioners to contribute.
I especially appreciate the perspective of Avivara - working with the school and community to determine needs and not just stepping in to "fix things up." I believe that is an important element in the success it has experienced. Avivara also recognizes the many aspects that go into offering a good education. Sometimes the need is fresh water that does not need to be carried to the school each morning before classes. Or it may be workshops to educate and inspire teachers. Or books for the library. Through its Newsletter "The Blackboard" we are kept informed not only about the schools and programs but also about life in Guatemala.
I tried unsuccessfully to add a video created for our parish about our sister school in San Jose Pacul. If you search YouTube for Pacul Video 2016, you may be able to see Avivara at work.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Earlier this month (February 2012) I returned from a three-week stay in Antigua, Guatemala, a trip I initiated with Avivara at the suggestion of a friend. I had very little mission experience, had never been to Guatemala, knew very little about the country and had never studied Spanish. I explored the Avivara web site, wanting to know more about their mission, and discovered all kinds of information - their focus, of course, and the programs they offer. But I was delighted to learn about the country, its problems and its beauty. The "Visiting Guagemala-FAQ's" convinced me that Guatemala was a place I could visit and Avivara was the organization that could help me make the journey. My emails were promptly answered and I even received a phone call after my first piece of paperwork was submitted. Gary Teale walked me through each step and had even sent along an itinerary for my first few days. My plan was to learn more about Avivara, to which I had been donating, and the children and schools it supported. In addition I wanted to volunteer at the local hospital. Gary arranged a contact with the volunteer coordinator there and I spent several afternoons there. Gary's itinerary covered the first several days of the trip, arranging our homestay, introducing me and my companion to Antigua and to his community. He was quite the tour guide, even assisting us at the bank and on our first ride on the "chicken bus." Once he and we felt we'd gotten comfortable, he said we were on our own to the extent we wanted. If we needed help, he and his wife were available, but if we wanted to be on our own, we could do it. With his help and with the selection of a school for Spanish classes, we were on our own and delighting in our independence. We actually spent more time with the escuelita that Avivara runs (the afterschool program in one of the villages) and venturing out to see the other schools with which Avivara has affiliated. To meet the teachers in the various villages, to hear the stories and needs, to learn about the impact of education on the lives of these students, to meet scholarship students and hear their plans - all speak to the importance of the work of Avivara. I'm so excited to have had a chance to see and participate in their work. And I'm hoping that our experiences will lead others to take a chance. That web site is clear, easy to navigate, chock full of information; but the best source of information and support lies in the people of Avivara. It was a great trip and if I could add stars to the rating, I would.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a supporter of Avivara for 9 years, and have been in many of the schools in Guatemala that Avivara supports. This is truly an effective organization that is having a positive impact on the students and schools it supports, most of which are in remote rural areas of the country. Funds are well managed and administrative costs are very low.

Previous Stories
1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Avivara is a very hands on, high impact organization doing some incredible work in rural areas of Guatemala. For over 7 years Avivara has provided funding and educational opportunities for promising students who otherwise would likely not have been able to continue their education. Today almost 90 students are able to continue their studies because of Avivara support, ranging from grade school to university levels. In addition, Avivara funding supports rural schools directly with teachng materials and training by the mostly volunteer Avivara staff, who are all trained educators. Avivara is exremely efficient, with about 94% of funds going directly to programs in 2014. If you believe that education is a key element to improving lives, I urge you to support Avivara.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

By limiting the geographic scope of its work, Avivara is able to maximize its effectiveness. And the results of the scholarship program are measured by the number of supported students who graduate from high school, undergraduate and professional schools. Wow.

Donor

Rating: 5

I started a monthly donation to Avivara after a presentation in my hometown inspired me and offered a very direct way I could help and knowing that my donation would have the best chance to have a big value relative to my modest resources. More than that, I continue to see that Gary and Ann provide many layers of benefits to people across many boundaries. Besides their personal and focused efforts for school children in Guatemala, they have given many people cross-cultural travel and learning and sharing opportunities. People from Seattle and the surrounding state have had opportunities to go visit and personally add their efforts in Guatemala to help the schools directly, such as painting and doing repairs and interacting with the local schools in the mountain villages. I have also had the opportunity to meet people from Guatemala that have come to the Seattle area. It is a wonderful sharing that goes personally and directly both ways. Thank you so much for the hard work and inspiration.

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a small non profit that really gets the money to the ground in the best of ways. By asking teachers and parents what they need to make the educational experience a success. Since every school is different the needs are not necessarily the same. This is reflected in supplying funds to feed the students, bringing in books where none existed or provide a scholarship for a student desiring to continue with their education. I am happy knowing our contributions are really making a difference for people in Guatemala.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We are donors who have volunteered with Avivara for about 9 years. On our annual trips to Guatemala we have watched this small organization generate large impacts on students of 4 to 24 years of age, on rural schools, on teachers and their curriculum, and on the personal lives of parents and family members. Their insightful way of seeking input from the communities they serve and then responding to their needs has resulted in more than 100 sponsored students pursuing learning opportunities that they had never dreamed of. They address all the needs of students and families, provide counseling, and make whatever arrangements are needed to ensure the success of individuals and entire schools. No wonder their help is so attractive and desired by the rural Guatemalan schools that have been all but abandoned by their government. I highly recommend Avivara as an organization that will make excellent use of your support.

Previous Stories
4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Three trips to Guatemala and a 4 year association with the founders of this organization have convinced me of three things: (1) the beauty of Guatemala and the resilience and resoursefulness of the Guatemalan people; (2) the tremendous needs to develop an educated and fully employed population - especially in the rural areas; and (3) the need for a caring and culturally sensitive approach to assisting small communities who are struggling with poverty and a long history of neglect or repression. Avivara's approach of partnering with schools and teachers to help achieve improvements that they choose is one that works. Increased student attendence, teacher capabilities and study opportunities are immediately available. Their personal friendships with parents and students are lasting and genuine. They have accommplished a lot in a short time and with few resources. They select their projects and plan carefully for their success - making the best possible use of donations of money and time. I would recommend Avivara to anyone interested in making a positive impact on the lives of rural Guatemalans.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Avivara has been dedicated, thoughtful, transparent, and quietly radical since its inception. The Avivara team of three builds relationships over time with rural schools and scholarship students, serving as mentors, sounding boards, and resource conduits without imposing an external vision on the already capable and motivated people of Guatemala. It is thrilling to see freshly minted university graduates, confident high school students, and improving schools as a result of their hard work.

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

Avivara adheres to the highest philosophical principles of social justice - asking what students and teaching staff in rural schools want, rather than imposing an outside vision. And the work is effective and meaningful. And it is performed gracefully by merely a three person staff. This is a rare combination.

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Donor

Rating: 5

I am very selective about where I donate annually. I've been an Avivara donor since the organization's inception about 10 years ago. Avivara's impact has grown steadily year after year and I'm astounded by how much they are able to accomplish with their funds. It's an extraordinarily well run organization and it's run with great love, compassion and total involvement of the communities it serves. I regularly receive The Blackboard, a beautiful e-newsletter with the most beautiful photos and text that show me how well my donations are used. I always feel uplifted after reading them and only wish I had piles of money to give. I particularly love the profiles of educational scholarship recipients that are provided in the newsletter. Even if you're not a donor, check out The Blackboard on the Avivara site. You'll learn a lot about Guatemala and how precious education is to children and families.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with Avivara the past 3 years and can highly recommend this organization. They are well organized and very efficient. An amazing amount of their efforts help an important group of students in Guatemala and I can recommend them completely. A very informative web site is also available to explain all that they do. It's a great nonprofit with an impressive group of organizers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked for this organization as a volunteer for over 10 years. During that time I have watched it grow in its service to the teachers and students of Guatemala. I have seen its scholarship students achieve educational levels much beyond that of their parents and peers, and to use that education to serve their communities as teachers, nurses, doctors, business people, and community leaders. I also know it to be a very fiscally responsible organization, with over 92% of its expenditures going to programs, and less than 8% going towards administration and fund-raising.

Donor

Rating: 5

I so enjoyed my visit to Guatemala in 2010 when the church group I was traveling with was hosted by Aviara. I was impressed by the organization's work, the commitment of its leadership and the enthusiasm of the children the organization strived to empower through education. It was a touching experience to see the facilities where the kids Aviara serves are educated and to have the opportunity to improve these facilities, painting and carpentry, with the children both observing and eagerly assisting. Aviara is making a difference. I keep up with the organization by viewing its website and as I do so I continue to be touched as I view the pictures of the beautiful children of Guatemala and I read about their accomplishments facilitated by Aviara and their own determination and enthusiasm for learning.

1 Rose R.1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have know Gary Teale since he was principal at my son's school from 1997-2006. I have stayed in touch with him since he moved to Guatemala and started Avivara in 2006 to the present. I am very inspired by the educational program that Gary and his staff at Avivara have created in Guatemala and I whole-heartedly give my support, both financially and in prayer. As an Occupational Therapist, I aspire to volunteer in Guatemala in the near future to see this work in person. Some of my fellow parishioners at St. John the Baptist Parish in Covington have visited Gary and Avivara on their way to our sister parish in the hills of Guatemala. Gary has been a great support and encouragement to us as we grow a relationship with our sister parish and find the best ways to communicate our faith, learn about their culture and have a mutually supportive relationship. I highly recommend financially supporting Avivara as non-profit organization making a positive difference and to also explore volunteer opportunities.

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been supporting this particular charitable group for several years now. It has been really fun and satisfying to see how their reach and results have expanded over time.
This is a group that is making tangible progress and improving children's lives and futures.

Jeff135

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful nonprofit that helps with schoolchildren in a bottom up approach. They work within the community along with local people and try to provide materials and opportunity. You can't do everything but you can do a little. Avivara uses a very nice, locally supported, incremental approach to improving the educational experience and opportunities.
I was most impressed when we visited Guatemala and saw the schools and the children first hand. We were also able to meet a graduate of a business school where she was in management of a nice small hotel. I can recommend Avivara based on years of contributions and by seeing them in action in Guatemala.

Mary478

Board Member

Rating: 5

In 2009, a group of friends incorporated the New Mayas Society in the State of Missouri to assist with funding and other projects for Centro De Formacion Nuevos Mayas ( School for New Mayas) in the town of Xix, El Quiche, Guatemala. www.newmayas.org. The school houses middle and secondary students who come from remote villages in the highlands, as well as students from Xix and nearby villages. We had associated ourselves with a non-profit in St. Louis MO, but found it to our benefit to work with Avivara, as the founders and administrators live in Guatemala. We could not be happier with this relationship. Funds are managed in a completely- professional manner; supporters are notified and thanked as the donations are received, and transfers are made on a schedule allowing both the school staff and our organization to plan. Knowing that we can turn to the Avivara staff in order to get updates on the social, political and cultural situation in Guatemala provides extra assurance that we are making good decisions about our support--in Avivara we we have highly-competent consultants on call. Mary Lois Sennewald: President, New Mayas Society.

Donor

Rating: 5

Avivara is doing great things for impoverished kids and families in Guatemala - supporting schools and helping kids reach college through mentorship and direct financial support. Their impacts are long-term (multi-generational) and widely felt. This is a very small but effective organization. Dollars are wisely spent and not wasted.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been supporting Avivara for 5 years now and watched it grow significantly. I am continually impressed with the great strides and advances in education this limited staff organization brings to the children of Guatemala. Gustavo Valle and his team on the ground in Guatemala are working with schools, especially in the rural areas, to provide a better education to those who are so poorly served. I was recently impressed with their story of a young woman who was the first in village to attend high school.
The local board is a very dedicated and energetic group and I believe they will make a difference, one child, one school at a time. I highly recommend this organization for their commitment and dedication and the differences they make with limited resources. Five stars!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Avivara put almost all of their fundraising into programs of grants to schools and scholarships for students. They have supported some students all the way to professional school! They work very effectively with Guatemalan educators.

Caroline E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization meets the communities it serves where they are at. Together they set the priorities and move together from there. They not only provide needed school supplies, but educate the teachers and parents - working with whole communities! Their scholarship program for older youth continues to grow. After visiting and working with them at the rural schools and at that time an after school program, I feel confident their work is essential to rural Guatemalan schools and they are making a difference by serving the communities and teaching the communities how to continue and grow in educating their children as well as adult leaders.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ann, Gary, and Gustavo are dedicated to the people of Guatemala. They create a relationship with the entire community - students, teachers, and families. They empower the community to determine the needs, set the priorities, and then assist where those needs are. Awesome organization dedicated to education and justice for all!

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Tara57

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have visited the programs and people Avivara serves. It is an incredibly effective organization. They are diligent about using funding to make the most impact while also having the communities choose where they need assistance rather than imposing their own ideas.
My personal favorite program is their scholarship program. Teachers recommend students who have the personal drive to succeed in school, but lack the resources needed. Rather than dropping out in 3rd grade, Avivara will help a student with the cost of school until they graduate from high school. Then they become bread winners for their family and it breaks the cycle that often exists with poverty. Every month students have a meeting with Avivara staff. The parents, grandparents, and other family members are all on board to help the child succeed and everyone is grateful.

This is an amazing organization worth supporting. Every dollar makes a difference! Seeing all of this first-hand is why I am now a board member and a donor.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an organization that has worked in partnership with Avivara on the ground in Guatemala, I can highly recommend this nonprofit. They are highly transparent, very well organized and diligent about ensuring that donations go directly to their projects. Avivara truly deserves to be a top-rated nonprofit!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a friend of the founders of Avivara, visiting them in Guatemala in January 2015. I joined Ann on a number of forays to the schools Avivara provides support during the time I was there. The enthusiasm, warmth, and excitement from the teachers and students of each school we visited was tremendous. This was not feigned in the slightest since we visited the schools 2-3 times during the time I was there. They found meaningful work, such as cleaning and organizing a library and painting a school. Avivara is invited by the communities/schools they help and the results show that when people are active in the change they want to see, it occurs. We also ran into adults, who because of Avivara scholarships when they were younger, are now successful business people giving back to their communities. No better testament to the effectiveness of an organization, by having the very people you help follow your example.

Donor

Rating: 5

I live in Guatemala and have visited the work of the Avivara staff several times. Each time I've come away impressed with their commitment with working directly with people, in this case teachers, students, parents, and community members in rural communities of Guatemala, to listen to their voices and in dialogue and support of those needs. Whether through scholarship support, school books and materials, teacher trainings around reading, science, and math curriculum, or the wonderfully creative year long weekly art classes with elementary schools, Avivara is doing the good work. I wholeheartedly endorse this team and this organization! The founders, Ann and Gary, and Gustavo their decades long program director, are all individuals of the highest integrity and commitment. Kudos to them for finding just the right way to support people at the grassroots in ways which allow them individual expression and participation. At the same time, Avivara gives support, through accounting and administration, to other organizations with like-minded missions and commitment. The world is a better place because of the staff and founders of Avivara!

Jacob Carter

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Avivará is an exceptional NGO working towards higher quality education in Guatemala. In a world where many think they have the answer and show up to deliver the solution, Avivará centers their work on an active consultation process with locals to co-design programs that make sense for each unique context.

Beyond their work in Guatemala, they also make a significant effort to educate their supporters about the complex dynamics of poverty in Guatemala. This includes sharing stories from their participants along with newspaper articles and inviting people to visit and participate in their work first-hand.

I highly recommend this organization for donors, volunteers, and those generally interested in education in Guatemala.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I serve on the Board of Avivara, and have since its inception. Over the years the organization has stayed true to its mission, and has proven its ability to alter lives in rural Guatemala through the possibilities of education. In the face of growth and success, Avivara remains remarkably efficient at utilizing contributions to achieve its aims; administration and fund raising costs are very low. By keeping in close contact with its scholarship recipients, for example, Avivara is able to provide encouragement and guidance to those individuals. This support helps to ensure the effective use of resources. The organization has supported a number of individuals into and through their university education - this would have been a nearly impossible goal for these individuals. Avivara changes lives, one at a time, through education.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Avivara since its founding. On a trip to Guatemala in 2007, just before Avivara was born, I met a young man at a school in a remote village. At that point he was about 14 years. As one child of many in a large family, he was expected to leave school at this age (or even sooner) to work in the fields to provide income for the family. But his obvious talent and love of learning had kept him in school longer than his siblings. This young man was one of Avivara's first scholarship recipients. Avivara supported him throughout his high school education, and then continued its support on into his university years. Soon to graduate with a degree in accounting, the astonishing success of this young man was only possible with the support of Avivara. Not only did Avivara provide the monetary support that allowed him to continue his education, but the organization met with him and his parents on a regular basis to ensure that he had the kind of global support needed for this radical departure from the life of field workers in Guatemala.
It is this actualization of possibility that gives Avivara a unique level of effectiveness. Lives are changed. With continued educational and personal transformations as these, the future of Guatemala will eventually be changed.

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1 Jim_179

Donor

Rating: 5

We have partnered with Rotary, Church and Interact to help effectively raise money and awareness about education in Guatemala. One of the best run organizations I have had the chance to work with over the past 10 years.

1 Sherry Miller

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Avivara, with only 3 people on their staff, two of whom I think work with little or no monetary pay and their key change agent, a Guatemalan teacher/administrator, are doing more to support education in rural communities here than any other organization in town, including the national/local government. They listen to the needs of the teachers; they respond. They train the teachers, many of whom have never had any form of real staff development. They supply schools with materials, with small, vibrant libraries, with art lessons where Ann models great teaching practices with the local classroom teacher, often with more than 30 in their class and certainly no sink to clean the brushes or their hands. They work tirelessly to empower students via scholarships, counsel, smiles and a more well equipped, responsive classroom than most public school students in rural Guatemala and many urban ones too, will ever know. I love Avivara and I admire the work they do, ever to quietly, humbly and significantly here. I love showing up at their end of year celebrations and hearing the testimonies, the stories and the endless thanks the hundreds of children and their families they are working for and with. This nonprofit is a model of true grassroots empowerment for all of us and "far exceeds expectations"! Thank you, Avivara, for being present in ways that so matter.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Avivara is one organization that is spreading development for several families and communities .
has been a very important for the education of children and youth in Guatemala. is providing financial support and capable students who wish to continue their education on to the secondary level.
All donors , thank you very much for your support, because investing in education is to change lives .
I am one of the scholarship students, I thank everyone for your support and I'm almost to finish my degree in Business Administration .
AVIVARA is very important for my personal development.
Thank you so much Gary, Ann and Gustavo for everything. You are awesome people. AVIVARA is part of my life.

Comments ( 1 )

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avivara 11/05/2014

The person making this comment was one of Avivara's first university scholarship recipients. We first met her when she was a waitress at a hotel in Santiago, Atitlan, where she told us of her desire to attend university. She is now in the last semester of her studies in Hotel and Business Administration. In addition, she is now the manager of the Bambu Hotel in Santiago, Atitlan, and was recently named to the Board of Directors of Hospital Atitlan, also there in Santiago. Congratulations to her for continuing her education and becoming such a contributing member of her community.

Donor

Rating: 5

My wife & I have been happy to help Avivara & there wonderful staff for years. The help they bring to the Guatemalan community & how it effects there future is fantastic. It is truly a blessing when you have such a positive effect on a child's life as Avivara does. The entire Avivara staff are truly a blessing & we are happyto help when we can. Keep up the great work.

Keep The Blessings Coming

Frank & Perla Whitson

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I want to thank Gary, Ann and Gustavo for the noble work being done in the rural schools of Guatemala is impressive work, have the attitude that we should all , attitude change , to be better. Since two thousand eight, SCHOOL VILLAGE THE TUNINO , Sumpango , it has benefited the entire community, for the support of school supplies for students , teaching materials for teachers, we now have a technology room , in which prepare students for giving them the computer course . Everything has changed thanks to quicken and his big board GARY , ANN AND GUSTAVO . Publicly I hereby want to thank all the support they have given us , they are people who generate peace , warmth and humility. GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS .

Comments ( 2 )

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avivara 10/24/2014

Jorge Luis is the director of Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta in Tunino. If his English seems a little stilted, it is because he only speaks Spanish, and used a translating program to express his thoughts in English. Also, he would probably be better classified as a client, rather than as a volunteer. We very much appreciate his kind words and the effort he made to post this review.

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avivara 10/24/2014

Jorge Luis es el director de la escuela en Tunino, Sumpango. Gracias a el por sus palabras amables. El ha hecho mucho para adelantar la escuela y los maestros en Tunino. Gracias, Jorge.

Michael290

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Creating happiness, empowering children, families, teachers. No one could ask or expect more from an NGO. I know the village where Ann and Gary live, and have seen first hand the results of their efforts and the true love and esteem in which they are held by their friends and neighbours.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

One of the unique things about this program is that they ask the teachers what they need to be more effective. Gary Teale and Ann Austin don't assume they know what the teachers need but by inquiring they empower the teachers. They also provide teacher training and teaching supplies to support the teachers in their classrooms.

I am impressed that they also meet with parents to motivate them to support the education of their children.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Avivara is a nonprofit I contribute to without hesitation. I know my contribution will be used wisely and the funds will go directly to improve access to education for young people in Guatemala. I wish I had more to donate to this amazing organization. Gary Teale and Ann Austin are personal friends who selflessly left their comfortable lives in Seattle to volunteer as teachers and work directly with the most impoverished and forgotten children in Guatemala. What they learned through their time volunteering for another organization sparked the flame of a vision that grew and materialized into Avivara. They now fund educational scholarships for children who never dreamed an education would be accessible to them and they provide support and materials to rural schools and teachers that receive inadequate or no funding at all. It is humbling to read their many success stories. We take so much for granted here in the US.

Donor

Rating: 5

I met Gary Teale personally years ago, when he explained the activities of Avivara. His newsletter gives information about specific people and villages that are being helped. Education is such a key to success. The organization seems to have very little overhead. Locals in Guatemala are part of the decision-making structure. It is a very good group.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Avivara is doing hard and much needed work in Guatemala. I am connected to Avivara as a friend, volunteer, donor, and person similarly interested in social and economic justice in Guatemala. Helping young people, particularly in rural areas, access meaningful education is critical for improvement of the humans rights situation in Guatemala and all of Latin America. It is not complicated--knowledge is power, as it always will be. Education for young Guatemalans means better understanding the history and political context of their country and current injustices. It probably means being able to analyze and criticize and communicate dissent more effectively. Avivara works hard, uses resources efficiently, deeply loves the teachers and students they help, and is one of the most dedicated and passionate non-profits I have ever seen. Avivara changes kids lives, helps teachers, and ultimately is improving social justice in Guatemala.

Gay T.

Donor

Rating: 5

It gives me both pleasure and pride to contribute to Avivara. I earnestly believe that empowering local Guatemalans to help their friends and neighbors improve their lives through education is a wonderful gift and essential to improving the lives of those in impoverished countries.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked as a volunteer for Avivara since its inception in 2008. During that time I have watched it grow from a very small organization working with only one school in rural Guatemala and providing scholarships to two students, to now working with over a dozen rural schools and providing scholarships to over 120 students attending school from junior high to university. With the leadership and support of a dedicated Board of Directors, Avivara has been able in its six years of existence to raise and distribute over $350,000 to its Guatemalan programs. I have seen firsthand how this support has given hope to teachers in the rural underfunded schools, and allowed rural children complete their studies and gain employment as teachers, bookkeepers, nurses, hotel managers and soon, doctors. With its administrative and fundraising expenses at less than 8% of its total expenditures, Avivara uses its donations very effectively. I believe deeply in the mission of Avivara and its way of addressing poverty in Guatemala that empowers and gives dignity to its peoples.

Carol116

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I had the opportunity to work with one of the schools Avivara sponsors. The administration, teachers and students could not have been more open, caring and appreciative of our teaching efforts. This organization does a tremendous amount of good for schools in indigenous areas of Guatemala. Avivara works with the schools to provide resources that the schools themselves have determined that they need. Their overhead is amazingly low with only one paid employee. The founders do not take a salary and donate so much time and their personal resources to the organization. They are inspirational!

dannymilks

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been giving to them since 2009, and do so with complete trust that they stretch each dollar to the max. I spent two weeks in Guatemala with Avivara, visiting their schools and witnessing their success. Gustavo, Anne, and Gary are incredibly smart, talented and dedicated educators. They work relentlessly to provide a better environment for the poorest students in Guatemala, which may include providing school supplies, hot meals, and educating the teachers (who themselves have been poorly educated).

A donation to Avivara is the best use of your money. I try to steer 90% of my donations to Avivara, even though I work with several non-profits in my region and make occasional donations to them. I want to improve the world, and my money goes a lot further in Guatemala, especially in the hands of Avivara. Just like if I want to protect the environment, I'd have a lot more global influence with my donations by conserving land in the Amazon rather than near my residence in California.

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Donor

Rating: 5

Avivara's multi-pronged effort is aimed at making a long-term, sustainable difference in the health and education of the Guatemalan people. This non-profit is run on a shoestring administrative budget, with almost no overhead, no advertising, and minimal fundraising. Basically, you are guaranteed that nearly all of your money is going to aid students who really, really need an extra helping hand to give them the chance to escape systemic poverty. My wife and I saw this first hand, as we spent two years traveling around the worlds, sometimes working with non-profits. Through a mutual connection we found Avivara. We stayed with Gary and Ann for two weeks and learned all about their program. We were incredibly impressed with all aspects of Avivara. Gary and Ann are retired educators from Washington, who have dedicated their lives to this cause. They, together with Gustavo, empower the local teachers with better training, teaching tools and school supplies. They work with the community to provide hot breakfast every morning so that the students can focus on their school work. Avivara also provides scholarships to students for continuing education. Most school children drop out between the 2nd and 6th grades. The Avivara scholarships help the family with the burden of sending children to a middle school or high school, which typically requires a daily bus ride, new books, and other school supplies. Avivara also runs a local after-school program in their headquarters. This is the single best non-profit I have seen. Your dollar goes a long way in Guatemala, but that's no reason to be stingy with your donations.

Comments ( 1 )

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avivara 03/22/2012

Danny, Thank you for your very kind words. They do have more impact given that you were actually here to see and participate in our work. We very much appreciate your support and encouragement. Gary and Ann

pennyjoy

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We chose Avivara as the recipient of an annual fundraising event we hold called Ride for Literacy. The organizations we choose are always from Guatemala as our dear son Luis was born there.

2 years ago, while researching all of the many literacy groups in GT, Avivara stood out. Their approach to literacy is quite unique in its scope. We appreciate how their focus is directed on the youth both while still in school through teacher education, after school programs, and school renovation projects...as well as to support older students in continuing their education through scholarships and having personal relationships with each of the recipients.

We had the opportunity to visit Gary and Ann Austin last year while in Guatemala. They are truly living their values and prioritize their work at every turn.

Donor

Rating: 5

A focused non-profit dedicated to education where education is hard to find, the hill of Guatemala. Low overhead and quality participants.

Mark103

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a retired educator and current photographer. I was the guest of Avivara in Feb. 2013 and was able to visit 4 of the 11 schools that they are assisting while I was in Guatemala. These schools were in very poor remote mountain villages where access to quality education has not been a priority. Because of the sustained effort to empower the teaching staffs at these schools, not by dictating what they should do, but rather by listening to the needs of the individual schools expressed by the teachers and administrators, Avivara has made a lasting, highly positive impact on the lives of the students and the school community in these villages. Contributions such as providing desks and chairs to a school where the students were sitting on the floor, securing white boards where there were none in any class room, donating computer labs and software so that the students can learn computer skills and connect to the greater world and no longer be isolated in their villages, to bringing visiting teachers from the US to give science demonstrations lessons, and providing current textbooks and supplies to classes where the teachers had nothing provided by the country's Department of Education. Avivara is also providing scholarships to students that have a desire to pursue a college education and bring that knowledge back to improve their communities.

Grace28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent about a week volunteering with Avivara in one of their many schools. The more time I spent talking to the children and teachers, the more I realized what an amazing job they really do. From providing school supplies and books to building libraries and bathrooms, Avivara is an extremely important non-profit in the highlands of Guatemala. Apart from funding schools, they also provide scholarships for high school and university students. Avivara manages to give all of tees services while working on a pretty tight budget. Very little money goes to the administration. However, the positive changes that they have made are unmeasurable.

Jessica134

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am an adult who co-led a group of teenagers to Guatemala this last summer and we spent a few days volunteering with Avivara. I was incredibly impressed with this organization. Gary, Ann and Gustavo have a deep passion for promoting education among the youth of Guatemala which is evident in every action they do. Their priority of working with individual schools and youth to promote each ones' goals, instead of imposing their own ideas demonstrates clearly the love and respect that they have for those they serve. Additionally, their emphasis on not just volunteering but on educating the visiting youth on the systemic causes of injustice, especially as they pertain to the education system in Guatemala, gives context to the service they are providing. Trips and volunteer opportunities were well-organized and run and very safe and efficient. Working with them was an incredible experience.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was in Guatemala in May of this year - the latest in many trips there over the past 9 years. During that time, I have been involved in 2 humanitarian projects and been exposed to several others. As a result, I have become convinced that one of the keys to helping the people of the rural areas (and in particular, the people from an indigenous background) is education. Anyone who has spent any amount of time in these areas knows that far too often, families cannot afford to have their children attend school past the sixth grade and sometimes not even that long. A friend (with similar experiences) had discovered Avivara through their website, told me about it and we were both quite interested. Based on information from the website, we felt that Avivara was a good project with the right intentions, very transparent in respect to their financial affairs, and with sustainable goals.

I contacted Gary (Avivara’s Executive Director) some time prior to my trip and he indicated he would be pleased to meet with me when I was in the Antigua area. I was travelling with my grand-daughter (a university student studying to become an art therapist) and called Gary from Antigua expecting to meet with him for a brief discussion. Much to our delight, he offered to pick us up and take us to some of the locations where Avivara is active. He and his wife Ann arrived early in the morning at the house where we were staying and off we went. After a stop to pick up Gustavo (who is the Guatemalan Project Director for Avivara) we were off to three of the rural villages to visit the schools there.

At the schools, we met the Directors (Principals) and several teachers, and saw some of the direct results of Avivara's impact. One initiative that struck me as unique was seeing a large banner on several of the school walls with that individual school's mission statement. I think it's very unlikely that the most of the schools would have thought of doing this without the urging and guidance of Avivara. What a great way to get the school staff focused on what they hope to accomplish with their students. Gary also spoke of sponsoring a forum at the end of each year where all the directors get together and compare notes. At this meeting, they are encouraged to examine their accomplishments over the past year and to set goals for the future. I can imagine how thankful the directors must be for this opportunity.

We spent most of the day with Gary, Ann and Gustavo and talked a lot about their experiences, successes, stumbles, lessons learned, etc. We were also able to witness first-hand how they were welcomed with genuine warmth and respect at the schools we visited and the obvious physical results of Avivara’s involvement with those schools (improved facilities, computer classrooms, etc.)

My impression after a day with the project is that Gary, Ann and Gustavo have taken the time and done the research (often at great personal sacrifice and hardship) to learn what the communities need and (more importantly) want. Then they have worked with the community to provide it. Bottom line - a great project, very well done! I have no hesitation recommending Avivara to anyone looking for a way to help those less fortunate.

Bob Goodwin

If you have any questions, you can contact me at senorskipper@hotmail.com.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I learned of Avivara through my sister and brother-in-law, who have been working with and supporting this group fo more than 7 years. My wife and I met Gary, Ann and Gustavo in 2013 when we visited Guatemala and had the opportunity to visit a couple of schools that Avivara works with. Avivara is committed to partnering with and supporting local rural schools, as opposed to coming in and telling them what they need to do. This truly is a committed group.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found Avivara while searching for an internship in which to conduct field research for my masters' research/thesis. My research is on teacher perceptions of bilingual intercultural education in Guatemala, cultural identity of indigenous children and language as influential to cultural and academic development. When I read through Avivara's website and saw their mission, I knew instantly that I wanted to work with the organization. Their mission to improve access to and quality of education for rural communities in Guatemala couldn't have aligned more perfectly to my passion and future career as an international development practitioner in the field of education. After initial contact with Gary and Ann, the rest was history and I worked with them for two months last summer (2012).

I worked as a teacher's assistant in San Jose El Yalu, and although challenging, the experience was fulfilling, fun and life-altering. I worked extensively with one first grade teacher, learned every student by name and where they were academically, and spent more time with the children who needed extra attention. Although I was only in the school for a little over a month, the progress made by one little girl in particular was so rewarding. She was an introvert and did not speak, read or write much, but after working with her a little each day, she eventually could pronounce and write a few letters!

What I love the most about Avivara, is Gary, Ann, and Gustavo's true dedication and commitment to improving the quality of education for every school, teacher and child with whom they work. Their love for what they do is infectious and evident in how well they know every family and teacher. The schools aren't just numbers or projects, they are individuals, families, communities. Quality is more important than quantity. Additionally, Gary and Ann were extremely supportive in helping me become acclimated to Antigua and the surrounding communities, and were always available for any questions or concerns. I would without a doubt recommend working with Avivara, and hope for the opportunity to work with the organization in the near future!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5


I first came into contact with Avivará two years ago while studying Spanish in La Antigua, Guatemala. Before arriving, I had searched the internet for a non-profit organization with education as its main focus and was directed to Avivará. When I responded to the "Communicate with Us" with my email address, I was pleasantly surprised to hear back the next day from Ann Austin, one of the founders of the organization. We quickly worked out the arrangements so that we could meet when I got to Antigua. Being an ELL/ESL teacher, I was delighted to learn that I could volunteer in the after-school program that Ann and Gustavo Valle, both teachers, were running in a nearby village. I loved my time with the children in La Escuelita, but Ann and Gustavo also brought me to several rural schools supported by Avivará. This experience touched my heart in a very powerful way because I saw the harsh realities of life- and school- in the Guatemalan countryside.

I also learned about Avivará’s scholarship program, and how they provide supplies to schools based on what the teachers themselves rate as their most urgent needs. While Ann and Gustavo do most of the teacher and school interaction, Gary Teale, Ann’s husband, is in charge of financial oversight and accountability for Avivará. Together, the three have created a highly effective organization for achieving their mission to support the needs of rural schools. This was a short but very powerful introduction to the mission of Avivará, and I knew that this was just the kind of organization I wanted to support financially, as well as with more volunteer work in the future.

This summer I was privileged to return to Guatemala for five weeks and again work with Avivará. During my first week, I helped in the after-school program and attended scholarship meetings with Gustavo and Ann, the students, and their parents. These meetings were emotionally very moving as both students and parents shared their hopes and dreams for the future as well as the hard work, the challenges, and the sacrifices required to pursue an education that we in the United States often take for granted. I saw clearly how valuable the scholarship program is, and also the student accountability mechanism that Avivará has built into its program through these meetings.

The highlight of my stay was volunteering in the school in El Yalú. I spent one week in a first grade classroom assisting the classroom teacher and familiarizing myself in general with the teachers and students and the school day. After my orientation week, I began teaching English classes in the third through sixth grades. Students and teachers were very friendly and eager to participate and made me feel very welcome. The teachers also showed me the areas in the English curriculum in which they wanted me to focus, which made lesson planning much easier. I felt that the school community, including the director, the teachers, and the students, had enthusiastically embraced me and made me feel welcome. I can honestly say that my experiences in the classroom were joyful, and I felt a real sense of sadness when it was time to say good bye.

For me, the heart of successful volunteer work is knowing that we receive much more than we give as we meet new people, different cultures and languages, and enter into new situations. I experienced a dedicated teaching staff working in a remote location, enduring a lengthy daily commute by bus, working with meager resources and students who have huge learning obstacles to be overcome, and doing all of this with a cheerful, loving, and positive spirit. They taught me, not only strategies for keeping students engaged and the power of handmade teaching materials, but the power of the human spirit to transcend difficult circumstances. For all that I received this summer, I say a heart-felt thank you to the El Yalú community and to Avivará for bringing us together. I know that I have grown so much, not only as a teacher, but as a person, and I hope very much to return next summer and continue what I have begun. ¡Muchísimas gracias!





Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

While on an educational research trip to the Antigua area I had the chance to meet Gary, Ann, and Gustavo, Avivara's co-founders.  I was Immediately impressed with their inspired dedication to their mission of serving the indigenous rural areas with much needed educational supplies and infrastructure support. After observing Ann's multi-level homework-helper after-school program in San Pedro, I joined Ann, Gary, and Gustavo on a field trip to three of the rural schools Avivara supports. This experience left an indelible impression of the way beauty and poverty coexist in rural Guatemala.  The children and teachers were kind and generous and gladly extended open arms to our somewhat disruptive visits. It became obvious that Avivara's help in these impoverished places was lovingly appreciated and is making a significant difference in these student's lives and in their teacher's ability to more effectively promote learning in the classroom. With Guatemalan public school system drastically underfunded, particularly in the indigenous impoverished areas, Avivara has stepped up and provided crucial supplies, support and hope for a better future for the most needy. Education can be a way out of impoverishment and Avivara is in place and in a place to make that happen. There's much more work to be done. 

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I found Avivara while conducting field research for my master's dissertation. My dissertation is on education for impoverished children within Guatemala.

In the United States, we are told that if we work hard in school we can become anything. We also believe that education opens doors to a fantastic life. In guatemala however, many children, especially from impoverished rural areas can only hope for a few years of basic schooling before embarking on a lifetime of manual labor in the farmlands of guatemala. Projects like Avivara are now in place to help these children dream beyond their present means. 

Avivara is an excellent nonprofit that tries its best to help children in complete poverty have better schools where there is a lack of funding. It was through Avivara that I was able to really understand the bigger picture. They connected me to several people for interviews and tours of three of the schools that they work with -- El Yalu, El Rosario, San Jose Pacul.

I am truly thankful for their help and the opportunities they provided me for my research. I hope in return my research can help the organization and the children which I have met while being here in Guatemala. 


Donor

Rating: 5

My daughter and son-in-law (Kristin and Danny) visited AVIVARA a couple of years ago. They have wonderful reports about the dedicated staff and the impact they are making on the disadvantaged children in the area. Donations made to this organization are utilized efficiently and effectively.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I met Gary and Ann of Avivara through a friend and ended up visiting their headquarters while traveling in Guatemala in 2011. While visiting their home I was struck by their dedication: rooms filled with supplies being packaged for distribution to schools, photos of the children they serve, and a clear passion for their work. Furthermore, I was very impressed by the amount they accomplish with limited funding. Avivara is a great example of the difference that two dedicated people can make in improving our world. I highly recommend this non-profit and hope that they are able to expand their work in the future.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In February, I helped lead a group of 10 high school students from the Seattle area on a service learning experience in Guatemala through Avivara. From the initial contact to the follow-up after the trip, Avivara has been nothing less than excellent. I was initially nervous about starting this type of trip at our school, but became confident through Avivara's guidance. Gary, Ann, Catherine, and Gustavo were outstanding guides, organizing and helping us with all the details throughout the experience. I would highly recommend Avivara for anyone looking for a solid group service learning experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My fiance and I spent four months in Guatemala between May and August 2011. I was working as an education policy intern with USAID during that time, and Avivira helped my fiance locate a physical therapy internship in a hospital in Antigua. Neither of us had been to Guatemala before, so we were understandably nervous before we left. Avivira greatly helped us with information and specific answers to our questions before we left. The project staff was incredibly responsive to our concerns and always responded promptly to any emails we sent. Upon arriving in Guatemala City, Avivira staff met us at the airport and took care of everything to ensure an easy transition. They were very informative, especially regarding safety concerns and locating essential shops and services in Antigua. They dropped us off directly at our homestay, which they had arranged in advance. The homestay turned out to be fantastic, and we honestly did not have a single complaint about Avivira the entire time we were in Guatemala. The organization was there to assist us whenever we had questions or concerns. Their local expertise was especially helpful during the first few weeks in the country. I can't say enough great things about this organization. Their work in supporting primary schools in rural villages around Antigua is incredibly important, and their support of volunteers who come to Guatemala to make a difference is impressive.

AKj-77

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My friend and I are both part of our school's Engineers Without Borders student chapter, and developed a proposal that was funded by scholarships and private donations. Our goal was to see how our collective experience in developing country engineering might be of use in Guatemala.
As we worked on our proposed project goals, we were able to use Gary and Ann as excellent resources for every aspect of our trip, and because we were able to visit communities that Avivara had an established presence, we were quickly able to develop a trusting relationship and get a very honest and candid perspective from the community leaders. This process would have taken us weeks, perhaps months, to develop and we would never have been able to gather the information and data in our two weeks that we were able to obtain.
Because Avivara is primarily involved in improving education and related projects, our engineering-related goals were a new experience for them as well. I was amazed at how resourceful and flexible everyone was that we interacted with, and I am still processing all of the experiences that we were able to have. Needless to say, our project would NEVER been as overwhelmingly successful at what we were trying to accomplish without the help of Avivara.
Our goal is to develop an ongoing project and sufficient funding to collaborate with Avivara in future endeavors in the Antigua region, and when we return, we definitely look forward to working with them again!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Soy un maestro de educación primaria que ha trabajado en la Escuela de El Yalú, del municipio de Sumpango, en el país de Guatemala, en esta escuela trabajé durante siete años, una aldea en la que la población es de escasos recursos, donde los niños en la mayoría de días llega a la escuela sin una tortilla o pan en el estomago, ahora trabajo en la Aldea Rancho Alegre, siempre de Sumpango, en esta aldea la situación no es muy diferente, pero cada día debo luchar por darle lo mejor a mis alumnos. Pero esta labor ahora es fácil gracias a la ayuda que me brinda Avivará, quienes me ha dado material didáctico que utilizo con mis alumnos y cada día ellos están en la disponibilidad de ayudarme y ayudar a mis niños con cuadernos, lapices, borradores y muchas cosas mas, por todo esto y muchas ayudas mas que me han brindado mis niños llegan mas motivados a estudiar.