Frequently Asked Questions -
Q. When does the school year begin and end in Guatemala?
A. The school year in Guatemala starts in January and ends in October. Students have the week before Easter off as the country celebrates Holy Week. School may also be closed as needed during the rainy season in June and July if there is flooding.
Q. Why does it cost so much to sponsor a child in Guatemala?
A. Fuente de Esperanza is a private school run by the Galilea Church but they are subject to the laws of Guatemala which determine the salaries of the teachers and staff. Our partners have carefully considered the costs involved with running the school including the costs of student materials and curriculum, salaries, as well as food and the preparation of it. Their budget determines the total cost per student. Because of that, it was decided to have two sponsors per child.
Q. Can I be the only sponsor for my sponsored child or do I have to share the sponsorship with someone else?
A. Yes, you can be the only sponsor for a child! If you are willing to pay the full amount of $70 per month, you may be the only sponsor a child has. We have sponsors who cover both of a child's sponsorships and others who choose to cover only one. Either way is fine.
Q. If I decide to sponsor a child, when are the sponsorship fees due and will I receive a notice telling me when they are due?
A. The sponsorship fees are due on the first of the month. When you start your sponsorship you will receive a statement showing your sponsorship pledge for the remainder of the calendar year and then in January an annual notice will be sent out for the next year. You may choose to make your sponsorship donations monthly, quarterly, twice a year or once a year.
Q. I sponsored a child recently and their photo has disappeared from the website. Does this mean my sponsored child has left the program?
A. No. Once a child has been sponsored, we will mark the child as "sponsored" on the website and leave their photo on the site for a few more weeks. After that, their photo is removed to make it easier for the remaining children on the website to be seen and, hopefully, chosen for sponsorship.
Q. My sponsored child has been in the same grade for more than one year. Why is this?
A. It is very common for a child to take more than one year to complete a grade. There are many reasons for this including missed school days due to illness or the family needing the child's help at home. The child must also pass a standardized government test before they can pass to the next grade level. If they do not pass, they must repeat the grade.
Q. Why are there no junior high or high school students listed?
A. The school started out in a rented building with just grades K – 1. It has been their goal to add one grade per year. In 2014, grades 1-4 are being taught. For the 2015 school year, grades 1 – 5 will be available. Some of the young children attend a “prepa” class or a kindergarten before enrolling in first grade. Others enter right into first grade. In time our partners in Guatemala hope to offer kindergarten again as well as adding on another higher grade. Currently, older students who are able attend school in another town. Only 22% of children who complete the sixth grade move on to the Junior High level because they are needed to help work in the fields or help at home. Sponsorship funds help more students be able to afford to continue their education.
Q. How often does the team from His Hands for Guatemala visit Guatemala to update the children in the program?
A. His Hands for Guatemala sends a team to Guatemala once a year. Generally the team goes in late July or early August. Teams are sent only when school is in session so the children will be available to be processed for the program.
Q. Is it possible for me to join one of the His Hands for Guatemala teams so I can visit my sponsored child?
A. Yes. There is an application process for those who are interested in joining one of our work teams. Every effort will be made for sponsors on our teams to meet their sponsored child but please be aware that we cannot promise this. (Children are sometimes absent when we visit the school or sometimes we discover that they have left the program.) If you are interested in applying for one of our teams, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. I sent an e-mail to the info@ address (or used the Contact Us form) a little while ago but I haven't received a response yet. Why not?
A. Please bear in mind that all our program coordinators are volunteers - donating their time and energy in order to help the children. Many of them have full-time jobs and families to care for so they may not be able to respond to messages immediately. Because of the willingness of these wonderful, caring individuals who are serving in this capacity in our ministry without being financially compensated, we are able to send 100% of your sponsorship donations directly to the program in Guatemala. So we ask for your patience while waiting for a response to your messages.
Q. I found [the program coordinator or a board member] on Facebook and sent them a friend request but it wasn't accepted. Why not?
A. The decision to accept, ignore or deny friend requests on Facebook is left to the discretion of each of the program coordinators or board members. Some of them prefer to maintain their Facebook account for only family and friends they know well and we respect this decision on their part. Each of the program coordinators are members of the group page for sponsors of the program for which they are responsible and they can be contacted with messages there or through e-mail.
Q. Can I send money to my sponsored child?
A. You may send a financial gift to your child through His Hands for Guatemala. If it is for a specific need, such as shoes, be sure to include a note specifying who and what the amount is for. If you send a non-specified amount for your child, then our partners will most likely buy food for your child’s family unless they know of another pressing need the family has.
Q. What happens if my child moves or stops attending the program for some reason?
A. As soon as we find out that a child is no longer attending school and it appears that they will not return, we will assign another child to you and sent you their information sheet and photo. We will do our best to match you with a child of the same gender and age to the child that you had. Occasionally a child may return to the program, but once we have replaced a child with another, we are not able to switch back.
Q. I have written to my sponsored child many times but I have never received a letter from them in return. Why not?
A. One way that His Hands differs from some of the big-name sponsorship organizations is the fact that we do not have any personnel from the ministry on the ground in Guatemala to help facilitate things like letter writing. It is possible that parents of the children are illiterate and would be unable to write on behalf of their children or help their children to write a letter themselves. And day-to-day life for many of the families of children in our program is extremely difficult. Many don't know where their next meal is coming from or how they will pay for medicines for their children. In the face of these difficult circumstances, we have chosen not to add to their burden (or to add to the burden of the pastors or teachers) by making it mandatory for the children to write back. We STRONGLY encourage them to do so, but we have not made it mandatory. Please understand that your letters are delivered if they are received. The postal service in Guatemala is not overly reliable. If a package is sent and arrives in Guatemala, one of our partners must travel into Guatemala City to pick it up and possibly pay a fee. Being that Guatemala is a country that deals with much poverty and corruption, there is no guarantee that a package will even arrive to be picked up by our partners.