“In 2014, a few students from the school joined to create a nonprofit corporation called Friends of FORMA.”
In 1998 Gregorio Garcia and Candelaria Xep Garcia opened the doors to Jabel Tinamit Spanish School to their first students coming from across the world. This was a hard-won dream that represented sacrifice and triumph over many difficulties. They had a typical Guatemalan history growing up – coming from large families with scarce resources. Throughout their struggles, they held to the determination that education was the key to advancement and success. Through fortitude and hard work, Gregorio and Candelaria have seen their dream become a reality.
Their history and experience give them hope for impoverished children and youth in nearby rural communities. In 2012, Jabel Tinamit established a social project – a scholarship program – focused on young 6th grade students who wished to continue with their studies. The majority of Guatemalan youth end their formal education after completing 6th grade. Middle school and high school mean increase costs for extra subjects, materials, uniforms and other expenses. Without financial support through scholarships, students have scant opportunity to continue their educational development.
The good work and positive results happening because of the Jabel Tinamit Social Projects caught the attention of foreign students at the Spanish School. Something powerful was happening; indigenous students from the outlying communities were staying in school, experiencing success, and sharing their benefits with each other and their community. As Guatemalan natives themselves, Candelaria and Gregorio had a deep understanding of the complexities facing both students and families. The interventions were making an effective difference.
In 2014, a few students from the Spanish school joined to create a nonprofit corporation called Friends of FORMA. Their desire was to facilitate the efforts of Jabel Tinamit’s social projects [now known as Forjando mi Mañana: FORMA – Guatemala] and to partner with other groups in Guatemala that are contributing to the economic development and sustainability of rural Guatemalan communities through educational scholarships, nutritional assistance programs, and other social projects.
Since its incorporation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in March 2015, Friends of FORMA has raised funds and supplied grant monies to its partners. Funding has been applied for the following:
- Scholarships for 24 Junior and High School Students leading to sponsorships, letter exchanges, and new friendships between generous Americans and disadvantaged Guatemalan youth.
- Librarian salaries that lead to full-time operating hours at community libraries in 2 rural areas of Guatemala’s Western Highlands: Buena Vista and Monte Mercedes;
- Sex Education workshop presented to the Scholarship Students by a Community Health Advocate;
- Providing clean dependable water for a family in San Sebastian Lemoa;
- Materials and instruction for women’s development and support through adult literacy classes, backyard gardening coaching, and cooking classes;
- Young people’s business start-ups in Buena Vista;
- English classes for Scholarship Students in Panajachel and financial support for students selected to study English in the U.S.A.;
- Emergency medical support for scholarship students.
The origin of the Friends of FORMA organization started as a triumph over adversity. It has grown to be a shared conviction that education can lead impoverished youth to the realization of a dream for a secure and better future.