Each year since its inception Friends of FORMA has provided funding for scholarships so that students, who might otherwise be unable to do so, can continue their education. Guatemala does not provide funding for students to continue beyond sixth grade; therefore, unless a family is able to pay for the necessary expenses of continuing a child’s education, the child remains at home or is sent out by the family to find work. Candelaria Xep, who directs this program on the ground in Guatemala, interviews potential student candidates and their families and subsequently selects the students who will receive the scholarships. With the funding provided by Friends of FORMA, she pays for such things as their supplies, uniforms, registration fees, monthly payments to the schools, typing courses, physical education uniforms and shoes, and parent meetings and workshops.
Another major component of this program is the Saturday tutorial program in which students gather at the Jabel Tinamit Language School to receive extra training for life skills. As scholarship students grow and move up in grade level, they are called upon to be of service by tutoring younger students. In order to remain in the program, each student must demonstrate a commitment to the program by studying and maintaining grades so that he or she may move from one grade level to the next.
Currently Friends of FORMA funds about twenty-six scholarships for students at the junior and senior high school levels. The scholarship project has been life-transforming for many students. We have seen some who have graduated and gone on to get scholarships to attend a university in the United States.
Many of our donors choose to sponsor one or more students; they maintain a personal, ongoing relationship through being pen pals or, in some cases, through visits to Guatemala where they meet the students and their families. We consider the scholarship program to be one of our most cherished endeavors, and we are very thankful to all who have contributed and continue to contribute to this valuable program.
*Submitted by Randy Stephenson Friends of FORMA Board Treasurer*