People and Projects: PROGRESA
PROGRESA is a Quaker-run scholarship/loan program that has been in existence for over 35 years. Jointly sponsored by the Guatemala Friends meeting and a Friends meeting in California, the program helps Guatemalans attend universities and secondary schools. Our focus is on the rural poor who often don’t have access to higher education in their communities. Our office is in Parramos, Chimaltenango, but our students come from 15 of the country’s 22 departments.
Each student receives a monthly stipend, which varies in amount depending on his or her needs. Each student also receives monthly counseling in person or by telephone. Whenever possible we visit current and former students in their homes to better understand the problems they face. These visits have provided us with important information and have led to our recent decision to allow students to repay their loans with community service. Once a year we hold a weekend conference, and this year’s conference focused on developing community-service projects. The students will now be volunteering in their communities during their school vacations and after they graduate.
We welcome new sponsors or donations of any amount. It costs between $600 and $1,200 to sponsor a student for one year. Checks made out to Redwood Forest Friends Meeting and mailed to The Guatemalan Scholarship/Loan Program, P.O. Box 1831, Santa Rosa, CA 95402 are eligible for a U.S. tax deduction.
We also need volunteers to translate student letters into English, help us with web design, or are skilled at creating databases in Access.