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Looking toward a brighter future

Program puts books in the hands of Mayan children

POSTED: April 1, 2009 4:00 a.m.
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Carol Tyger, a member of the Dawson County Rotary Club, presents a textbook to a student in Guatemala in February. Tyger traveled to the Mayan countryside on a trip to fight literacy in the impoverished country.

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Two and a half years ago, Carol Tyger met her granddaughter Ingrid for the first time.

  

Just days before Tyger’s son and daughter-in-law had traveled to Central America to bring Ingrid to her new home in the United States, where she would have the necessities she would need to grow up a healthy, educated and prosperous young woman.

  

Ingrid, who is now a beautiful and inquisitive 5-year-old, was adopted through Holt International Agency, which places orphaned children all over the world, many from the Central America region.

  

“Ingrid doesn’t know she now has a silver spoon in her mouth. She doesn’t know the difference, but one day she will,” said Tyger, who in February went to Guatemala to give children, like Ingrid, the resources they will need to get good jobs and break the cycle of poverty in their home country.

  

Traveling with a group of three-dozen Rotary members from across the country, Canada and the Cayman Islands, Tyger, a member of the Dawson County Rotary Club, helped deliver textbooks and library books to rural Guatemalan schools for the countries indigenous Mayan children’s education.

  

The group also set up computer labs in areas where children knew little about the world outside their rural villages and two-thirds of the population can’t read or write.

  

“After having the computers for just 10 days, a young man, who could not speak English, showed me, who could not speak Spanish, what he had learned on the computer,” Tyger said. “He was beginning to search and find out about the world way beyond his home in Guatemala.”

  

The February trip marks the 14th year Rotary International has participated in the Guatemala Literacy Project, which now serves more than 30,000 students with more than 174,000 textbooks in circulation and 14,500 students with computers in 39 computer centers and mini-libraries.

  

Since the initiative began, Guatemala has seen a 46 percent reduction in the school dropout rate, according to the program’s reports.

  

Tyger spent the trip traveling from village to village in rural Guatemala to deliver books to the children, who along with their families, welcomed the group with open arms and open hearts.

  

“They were all so grateful,” she said, adding the tale of a young girl with seven siblings she met on the trip.

  

While most children in Guatemala drop out of school after only four years, the young girl said all of her siblings were attending the local school and planned to graduate.

  

Years before her father, who works everyday from dawn to dusk to support his family for about $4 a day, vowed his children would never be faced with the hardships he endured as a man who could not read or write.

  

Although the family does not know the hardships that forced Ingrid’s biological parents to abandon her as a baby, Tyger knows the poverty and uncertainty to grow in the rural Mayan country most likely played a part.

  

“You can see why this means so much to me,” Tyger said, wiping the tears from her eyes last week as she described the experience. “It was an emotional, spiritual, educational experience that I hope to take again and again.”

  

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonnews.com.

 

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