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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

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

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.