Introducing Henry in Guatemala
A partner with a passion to provide Christian education
It is our pleasure to introduce to you Henry Vasquez, the Coordinator at Colegio Evangélico Integral El Mesías school, Guatemala. This is his story.
Tell us more about your life and family:
I am happily married with two beautiful daughters. I am 39 years old and grew up in a rural village of Santa Lucia Utatlan. My father was a bricklayer and my mother a housewife. At 13, my parents told me I had to quit school to work and help provide for the family. The principal of my school talked to my father about some government scholarships available to good students. At the beginning my father was hesitant as he needed my help, but at the end he agreed for me to apply for the scholarship. The Lord opened doors for me, and I left Santa Lucia when I received a scholarship to attend a boarding school for middle and high school in Guatemala City. This was a turning point for me. After graduating from High School, I was awarded a US scholarship program at Mt Hood Community College in Oregon. After completion of this program, I went back to Guatemala and earned another scholarship to study Participatory Local Social Development in Japan and Indonesia. After my studies abroad I knew I wanted to come back to Guatemala to be an ambassador of change in my Country.
The Lord opened doors for Henry to be granted three scholarships to further his education
After returning to Guatemala, I started working for an international ministry as an interpreter for the short-term mission teams involved with the ministry of Christian Schools including El Mesías Christian School. I was very grateful to the Lord for opening the doors for me to receive a good education. It was my heart’s desire to give back to my community by providing quality faith-based education as a way to improve the lives of the children and help them to reach their God-given potential.
Henry starts getting involved in the ministry
How and when did you get involved with the school?
The Mesías Christian School started in 2000 as a ministry by a local church in response to the need of good education in the community. My wife was involved in the school from the beginning as a volunteer, and her passion for teaching children grew. In 2017, a decision was made to close the El Mesías Christian School due to several reasons. One of them being that the Ministry of Education demanded our school to have more open outdoor areas for the children. My family and I prayed and asked the Lord to help us to be able to continue providing a good quality Christian education to the children in Santa Lucia Utatlan. Our hearts broke when we learned that the School Board had decided to close it. We prayed and in a step of boldness and faith, asked the Board to allow us to take responsibility for running the school. They gave us the legal documents but informed us that we had to comply with the government’s requirements. We prayed to the Lord and trusted in his provision. We were provided with a piece of land that we are still paying towards and that allowed us to obtain the Quality Education Certificate for the school.
We have a vision to provide better opportunities for children, not only academically but also spiritually, through good quality Christian education. We have learned that Christian values are key for a better individual development and progress in society.
New beginnings in 2020 – the school ministry starts offering quality Christian education
Taking a leap of faith, Henry and his family trusted for provision and started their ministry
What are the needs and challenges that the children and their families face?
In Guatemala, malnutrition among school-going children is 38.2% which means that 4/10 children are not healthy enough to attend school. As a school, we would love to provide nutritional meals to our students, but we are aware that we do not currently have an adequate kitchen and cafeteria to serve them.
Parents do not have permanent or regular employment and most families have a family member working in the North America and sending money home whenever they can find employment. This can also lead to the disintegration of the family unit.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the economy and most families have suffered a decrease in their income level. According to research, the economic impact from the pandemic has caused the economy to go backward by 12 – 15 years.
The geographic area is prone to mudslides because of the over-use of land for agricultural purposes. At 2,200 meters above sea level, growing crops (mostly corn) makes food availability a challenge. Materials used to build homes in these communities are not adequate to withstand the cold in the winter months of December and January.
How are CCI and the school helping the children, their families, and the community?
God worked miraculously. The CCI sponsorship program began as the Covid-19 pandemic started. Many parents were not able to pay the monthly tuition. The CCI sponsorship program allowed the school ministry to continue providing quality Christian education regardless of the economic impact in the community.
As a Christian school, we are helping children to continue learning even in the midst of the pandemic. Here, our staff is committed to helping the students learn using the best pedagogic tools they have. Some of the staff members at our school have become personal counsellors to help those children who are lacking the love of a parent while in the care of a single parent or grandparent, or those who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19.
Have you got plans or projects for the future?
- We are wanting to finish the payments for the school property.
- We would like to build more facilities for the school.
- We are aiming to expand the educational programs we offer to children and youth.