Santa Ana Candelaria School

In June 2011, work began on an ambitious project on the side of a mountain in a remote rural area of Alta Verapaz in Guatemala. With the help of our delivery partner, The Neumann Foundation, the Costa Foundation identified the need for school facilities for the farmer organisations of Candelaria Senahú (100 families), St Nicholas (100 families) and Canguacha (300 families).

School facilities for these families were woefully inadequate and unable to cope with the growing number of children in the region. The indigenous tribes the school serves are of Queqchi origin and the school provides a bilingual education teaching in both Queqchi and Spanish.

The school also operates a “Teach a Man to Fish” form of education, which integrates agricultural training into the curriculum and connects children to the work and objectives of their farming parents. This concept enables the children to provide food for their school meals, as well as to sell surplus crops to help make the school a self-financing and sustainable model.

The initial Costa Foundation investment delivered three classrooms, an administration block, sanitation and a school canteen. Since then, due to the remote location of the school, there has been further investment to build two boarding blocks, a computer lab and two science labs.

Senahú lies 257 km (159 miles) north east of Guatemala City, it is a Municipality founded by the Queqchi Mayan Indians in the 18th Century and has a population of circa 29,000. It was a major supplier of coffee to the European markets in the 1970s when the farms were owned by German farmers, however it is now farmed by indigenous individuals on small plots of land producing coffee, pepper, cardamom, cocoa and wood.