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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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.