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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

28 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!

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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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!

Read more

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!





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!