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Empowering Communities in Guatemala

Empowering Communities in Guatemala


Empowering Communities through Montessori Education: A Journey of Dedication

By Veronica Burbano

My name is Veronica Burbano, and I'm on a remarkable journey in the world of Montessori education. It all began 16 years ago when I took my first step into the field as a Spanish Specialist at a Montessori School in Amherst, Massachusetts. Little did I know that this initial step would lead me on a passionate quest to transform lives through education.

Falling in Love with Montessori

Working with the curious minds of young learners in Amherst ignited a spark within me. It was here that my deep-rooted passion for the Montessori Method was born. I was captivated by the philosophy and principles of Montessori education, and this spark led me to formal training in 2011. Ever since, I've dedicated over a decade to working in various Montessori environments.

Reaching New Horizons: AMI Trainers in Training

Recently, I reached a significant milestone in my Montessori journey by completing the AMI Training of Trainers programme. This achievement fills me with excitement and a sense of responsibility as I embark on a new chapter, one where I can guide and support future Montessori educators.

But my commitment to Montessori education doesn't stop at American borders. It extends to underserved communities around the globe, particularly in developing countries. This commitment has led me to collaborate with a remarkable non-profit organisation in Guatemala called UPAVIM.

UPAVIM: A Beacon of Hope

For over 25years, UPAVIM has been a beacon of hope in one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of La Esperanza, Guatemala. The organisation supports women and children in the region through an initiative known as UPAVIM Crafts. Over 60women are employed here, crafting beautiful, hand-crafted products. As a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation, UPAVIM Crafts ensures equitable wages, capacity building, and fair working conditions for these women. UPAVIMCrafts isn't just about creating beautiful products; it's about empowerment and fairness.

What makes this initiative truly exceptional is that many of these women are mothers.Their children have the opportunity to participate in Montessori programmes housed within the same UPAVIM building. It's a heartwarming setup that allows families to work and learn together in a safe and supportive environment.

A Montessori School: Nurturing Young Minds

But that's not the end of the story. UPAVIM has also established a Montessori school for the children of these resilient women. The school began as a response to the need for a safe place for small children while their mothers worked. It's reminiscent of Maria Montessori's story when she opened the first children's house in San Lorenzo, discovering the incredible potential in underprivileged children.

In UPAVIM, a team of dedicated Montessori guides recognised this need and potential. They mentored and trained teachers, and over 25 years, UPAVIM now boasts a thriving school. It includes an infant room with nine children, a toddler community with eleven children, and a children's house with nineteen more. Additionally, there's a Montessori elementary school with 150 students. The school is staffed by nine lead teachers and six assistant teachers, all of whom began receiving mentorship and training from AMI guides this year. The goal is to transform the entire school into an authentic Montessori institution within the next 5 years.

A Dream for the Future

Our dream is to raise funds to send these teachers for AMI Montessori training. Currently, there are no AMI training centres in Guatemala, which makes our mission even more crucial. As a member of their Education Committee, I've been actively involved in mentoring teachers, raising funds for scholarships, and collaborating with AMI Montessori schools to support teacher training and provide essential materials.

Your Invitation to Make a Difference

I am deeply honoured to serve this community, and I extend an invitation to all of you to join us on this journey of empowerment. Your support can take many forms: making a donation, partnering with us, or purchasing handcrafted products from UPAVIM.When you make a purchase, an incredible 30% of the product value goes directly to the women and children, enabling them to continue their journey of growth and empowerment.

For more information and a firsthand look at the incredible work happening in Guatemala, please visit the UPAVIM website. When you choose to purchase products from UPAVIM's fair-trade shop, you're not just acquiring a product; you're contributing directly to the empowerment of these women and children. Your support plays a vital role in helping them break free from the cycle of poverty.

Together, Let's Transform Lives through Montessori Education

I invite you to join us in spreading the Montessori philosophy and providing children, regardless of their circumstances, with the opportunity to thrive and become agents of peace. Your support, no matter how big or small, will create a lasting impact in their lives and contribute to a brighter future for all.Together, we can make a difference through education. 

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