Interview with the Doña Auri, founder of the school

 Peniel – school for children with different abilities

What does this school mean for the children?/for the families?

For the children: This is a space where they can develop, and have the attention that they would not get in a normal school.

The children are no longer considered ‘strange’ in the street, and they are no longer locked up and hidden away by their familes. It also means that people can start to see these children ‘as children’- something that often takes a lot of people years to accept.

For the families: The parents feel somewhat liberated in that they have someone to help them educate their children. Almost all of the parents who bring their children here come from backgrounds with very few resources (economically). Lots of parents simply don’t know what to do when they have a special child. They love them, but they don’t know the best way to care for their education or teach them social skills.

Auri tell us the story of her own son, who has Downs Syndrome: When I had my son I was fortunate enough to see a very good psychologist who told me to educate my son just like I educate my daughter (who is not special needs)- no special privileges, and normal discipline.

and today, Auri’s son is a very cosiderate, polite young man.

What does the community think of the school?

Those that are less supportive of the school are usually those who are less-educated themselves, and who see the school as a waste of time- they don’t see the point in educating children with special needs.

The great majority of the community are very supportive of the school- many people have helped, especially in the construction, during which everyone turned up to help carry blocks and materials to the site.

What opportunities do the children have by going to the school?

The children learn to be independent, they learn to adapt to society, and they can advance their knowledge.

Auri hopes that next they can help the children find opportunities to work- some of those who were students are keen to return to the school and assist the other children in their studies.

A comment about the building? Are you happy/what do you think of the construction?

We are incredibly grateful and blessed- this school is unique here in Quiche!

We are so grateful to Ranferi (Project Manager)- it’s like he fell from the sky- a gift from God!

Considering the previous conditions that we were working in, this building really is a dream come true.

It is also really important for the teachers here- that they have a good space in which to teach the children, and a space for their special exercises and activities they do with the children.

What would you say to the donors?

God bless them! The families, teachers, and children are all very grateful!

We hope the donors can visit and see  the good work they have done here. This school is an achievement for the community- the kids are happy where they are (in their new school) and the parents are happy to have support and somewhere that can help their kids. Our teachers have so much patience and love, and we are so happy to have gone from one room to having a whole school!