SKILLS FOR LIFE
Skills for life is the name under which we operate our vocational and educational training programs. We are in the process of registering it as a non-profit entity in Guatemala.
Our programs target underprivileged and orphaned children in the greater Guatemala City area. We setup and operate computer training centers and a carpentry workshop. Classes are also taught in culinary arts and English.
Our goal is to provide our students with practical life skills that will enable them to achieve a better quality of life and acquire gainful employment. We also strive to foster positive qualities such as self confidence, motivation, and integrity to assist the children in overcoming the marginalization and resulting lack of self-esteem often prevalent in impoverished communities.
We strive to multiply our efforts by training teachers in more effective teaching techniques and computer skills. We also look for students with leadership capabilities and train them to assist with the classes. At the orphanage Fundaniños we have identified and trained three students who now assist with classes on computer instruction, carpentry and English.
Woodworking and Carpentry
Carpentry is a valuable skill and skilled woodworkers can make a decent living in almost any part of the world. Many of the students have shown a tremendous artistic talent which they may never have discovered had they not had the opportunity develop their skills.
In 2011 we started teaching carpentry classes at the orphanage Fundaninos. In 2012, thanks to a grant from the Family Care Foundation, as well as donations of equipment from friends, we were able to expand our carpentry workshop to provide better training. Using instructional videos, classes and hands-on training, the students are learning to use a variety of tools including scroll saws, routers, planers, drill press, saws a lathe and hand tools. As the students make wooden puzzles, pens and crafts they will learn valuable woodworking skills and develop their creativity. We plan to look for opportunities for them to sell the projects they design and create, it is our hope that this will make the program sustainable and provide the students with important entrepreneurial experience.
Our CNC (computer numeric controlled) classes provide at-risk students with the opportunity to improve their math and science knowledge due to hands-on learning using digital fabrication. Familiarity with CNC technology is making students employable right out of high school. And those students on a pre-engineering path are making leaps ahead in their preparation for college and beyond. As a foundation with limited resources, the concept of providing skills which are not only current, but ahead of the marketplace, makes more and more sense.
In our woodworking academy at the orphanage Fundaninos the students are learning to use Vetric design software and a Shopbot Desktop CNC router. As part of our program they learn to design, cut and create 3D products out of wood. They also learn microenterprise and entrepreneurship through the sale of the products they make.
Sharie teaches regular cooking and baking classes at the orphanage Fundaninos. The benefits of this are twofold, not only do the students learn practical cooking and baking skills that will benefit them in both their personal and work lives but the children who live in the orphanage also benefit from eating better tasting and more nutritious food. The cooks who work at the orphanage also attend the classes and their cooking skills are improving as a result.
IT and Computer Skills
In today’s technology driven world, computer literacy is a prerequisite for many jobs and plays a big part in helping people transition from manual labor to skilled, professional jobs. We have setup two computer labs here in Guatemala.
One is located in Fundaninos located in San Jose Pinula. Where we have been teaching the children for the past 2 years. We have 10 good donated computers in the computer lab and we give weekly classes to the students. Through learning to touch type, play educational games and use office applications they become competent in the use of a computer and are exposed to the many benefits technology can offer.
Thanks to the donated laptops we received, five of the older students have own computers and are able to progress much faster in learning advanced office applications, email, speed typing and English. Our other computer lab is located in a small school for street children in zone 13 of Guatemala City called Boca del Monte. We setup a small computer lab and the students receive regular instruction on the computer both from us and also from the teachers there.
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