Another Amazing Year at Cadaniño
As we move forward into 2022 and all the opportunities and challenges it will bring, we are excited and thrilled. Never before have we had the staff, teachers, partners, and resources at our disposal to serve vulnerable children and families in Guatemala at such a high level.
Our ministry has grown dramatically year after year, from 35 students and one teacher in a small garage to 200 students and a dozen team members serving two communities.
One of the things that played into our growth, both in the number of people we serve and the quality of how we serve them, is that we have never been satisfied with last year's progress.
Ensuring that our ministry has a targeted impact means constantly tracking programs, evaluating impact, assessing strengths and weaknesses, setting goals, and making adjustments to ensure we successfully serve the orphaned, vulnerable, and those with special needs in Guatemala.
While the three pillars of our ministry remain the same: Spiritual Formation, Academic Reinforcement, and Family Strengthening, the work we do in each area is regularly evaluated and adjusted to ensure its effectiveness.
So here is the Cadaniño vision for 2022.
The heart of everything we do is the Gospel. We want those we serve to know that God loves them, that He wants what is best for them, that He cares for them so much, that He sent His son to earth to pay the price of our sins so that we might be restored to a relationship with Him, our Father.
Children's Ministry: Most students come into our after-school programs as young children have just started school. This is the perfect age to start teaching them about God. Our goal for this year is to ensure that all of them understand who God is and what the Bible is.
Youth Ministry: Many teenagers in our programs have attended for several years. They understand what the Bible is, but we want to ensure they understand how to follow Jesus. We desire that they make Bible study a part of their lives and serve others a part of who they are. We have seen the impact that retreats and service projects have in their lives and will increase opportunities for this in 2022.
Parents Ministry: Throughout the last two years of the pandemic, we have built relationships with the parents that have developed into true friendships. As they saw we truly cared for them during the worst times of their lives, it laid the groundwork for understanding a God who cares for them and loves them. We plan to continue to build deeper friendships with the parents through Bible studies, outreaches, and home visits.
Staff: Our ministry is to the children, teenagers, parents, and our staff. The better we do teaching, training, and discipling them, the better job they do ministering to others. Continuing with daily devotionals and taking them through a discipleship program will help their faith grow.
For people born into cycles of poverty, there are many challenges. One of them is how to achieve a different outcome for your family than the one which surrounds you.
While our goal is not to make people rich, it is to help them develop their God-given gifts and abilities and use them to their greatest potential in a way that glorifies Him.
Education is a vital part of that. We help children stay in school by providing the tutoring and assistance they need, introducing them to new skills, encouraging them to explore their interests, and giving them a safe place to develop and discover who they are.
Reading and Writing: Many students we serve struggle in school; big classes, underfunded public schools, and impoverished parents make things challenging in the best of times. Two years of learning at home due to Covid-19 has exasperated things.
We are not here to replace the job of teachers and parents but to supplement it in ways that make a targeted difference. We assess where students need help and work with them to improve in those areas. As a result, our students stay in school, and many excel in their studies.
Last year our students read and wrote reports on over 1,000 books, this year, we know they will read even more. A push to expand our reading library is necessary as most families have few books and no libraries exist.
Many students start to fall behind in school due to their inability to write well. An increased focus on ensuring that all of our students develop good handwriting and grammar skills will continue to be part of our core focus.
STEM Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Being computer literate is not just something nice in today's world. It's a requirement.
All our students learn relevant computer skills in office applications, email, the internet, and basic coding. For those with greater interest and aptitude, we provide opportunities to learn programming, web development, cyber security, graphics design, and other IT applications they are interested in through online learning platforms Coursera and Udemy.
This year we will also be expanding our open learning space significantly with STEM toolkits that students can use to explore robotics, electronics, and engineering concepts.
English: Speaking English opens the door to careers in call centers where a college degree is unnecessary, it doesn't matter where you are from, and your skills, abilities, and work ethic determine your future. Expanding our English classes will enable promising students to pursue this opportunity.
Fun: One of the main reasons so many students don't like school is because they see it as dull. We ensure that learning is fun, and finding new ways to help students learn through educational games and activities is a constant priority.
Much of what we do in this area is ministry to the parents. Lightening the load, when students come to our centers in the afternoons, the mothers have time for daily chores. We provide encouragement, pray for the parents and let them know we care. We help them build relationships, not just with our staff but also with other parents. We connect them to resources; housing, food, and medical equipment, leveraging our networks so those we serve can receive resources they didn't know were available.
Nutritional Assistance: It's hard to learn when you are hungry. Since starting our feeding program in 2021, where students receive a nutritious meal, we have seen a remarkable increase in students' ability to pay attention and learn. While our goal is not to replace the responsibility of parents to feed their children. There is great value coming alongside and supplementing children's diets to grow up healthier.
Home Building: Through partnerships with local donors and Habitat for Humanity, we will expand our home building program to provide safe housing to families of students who own land but are unable to construct adequate housing. This targeted program will serve a few specially vetted families that we believe are worthy of this life-changing investment that will change the lives of generations to come.
With 200 students enrolled, a lot goes into keeping everything running. We depend on everyone, the cooks, the teachers, and the coordinators, to embody a spirit of excellence in all they do.
Student Tracking: One of the ways we track our success is students' grades by requiring a copy of report cards. This enables us to understand where they need help and provide it accordingly. We also track attendance in our programs and interview students to learn their interests to guide them in the right direction.
Reporting: The only way to know if you are making progress is to see where you are. As the ministry has grown, so too has the need to properly track, evaluate, and report our work.
Our staff compiles monthly reports that include; the number of classes, what was taught, notable improvements in students; courses completed, equipment and materials used, and the impact they see as teachers.
Every six months, we use this data to create detailed reports for ministry partners, including financial reports, statistics, projects completed, program progress, challenges we face, and how we are dealing with them. This way, donors can understand how we operate and see the impact of their giving.
Team Building: Daily devotions, weekly staff meetings, monthly workshops, and staff activities ensure that we are meeting the needs of our staff. They see that we value their perspective as we adjust our programs according to their input. By genuinely knowing our team, we help them develop their gifts and abilities to thrive in their calling.
Expanding the knowledge base of our teachers through trauma competent care training, leadership classes, and seminars is a high priority for us this year.
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