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  • Writer's picturetimothy martiny

When Kids Love to Learn

Teaching children is an adventure; every child is unique and precious in their own way. Discovering how to reach them in the way that they learn best can be a challenge.

While I'm not a trained teacher, I've developed the skill of managing a disparate group of children from just about any background and imparting, to some extent, something of value.

Whether it's Bible classes, carpentry classes, computer classes, or life skills, some children always pay rapt attention, and others would rather be just about anywhere else. Almost nothing makes a teacher happier than inspiring a disinterested or inattentive child with the desire and passion to learn.

While I don't live for those moments, they make my day. I would like to tell you about the children we work with through our afterschool programs in Colonia Santa.

This program aims to provide free computer training and IT skills to children living in Colonia Santa, a dangerous "red zone" of Guatemala City and its surrounding ravines while teaching them God's love through Bible classes, scripture memorization, and Vacation Bible school.

I have rarely seen children with such a fantastic desire to learn. The children's attendance has been incredible. When we opened the classes at the beginning of the year, 60 students signed up. With the addition of a Saturday class last month, we are up to 78.

Classes take place in the afternoons and on Saturdays. Students learn touch typing, MS Windows/Office applications, and programming.

Most importantly, our wonderful teacher, Eduardo, is faithful in sharing the Gospel and telling them of God's love. Most of these children come from truly troubled backgrounds; many are from broken families and have lost relatives or loved ones to the gang violence that rules their neighborhoods. Their parents scrape by to make a living, and their children are often put to work so that their families can meet their basic needs.

Perhaps because there is so little opportunity, the parents and children see the value in what we have to offer and value the chance to learn. Attendance has been excellent. Of the 78 children in our classes, 38 have had perfect attendance and have not missed a day of classes. Of the remainder, 3 dropped out because their families moved, and the rest have missed less than 3 classes so far this year.

These children inspire me. They come day in and day out, rain or shine, every afternoon for their classes. They understand that learning valuable skills will give them a chance to break the cycle of poverty from which they come. They and their parents also value the foundation of faith we give them through God's word that will strengthen and fortify their spirits and provide them with the grace for any challenge they will face.

This program has been many years in the making. We have been through ups and downs, operated with limited resources, tried many different approaches to teaching, and dealt with shoddy, old, broken computers and limited space. There were times when we felt overwhelmed by the challenges before us and unsure if our impact was worth the cost, yet as we look at how things are running now, we can't help but marvel at what God had in store for us.

Thanks to all of you have funded this project and support us as missionaries, together we are having a powerful impact on the generation that can change Guatemala for the better.

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