Sending Christmas wishes a world away

Cedar Hill middle school students make Christmas cards that benefit families in Guatemala

Cedar Hill middle school students Evelyn

Cedar Hill middle school students joined a Vancouver Island movement to make, and sell, Christmas cards that benefit families in Guatemala.

Louise Soza founded Aldea Maya, a registered Canadian non-profit, after years of working to help residents of Chuk Muk, Guatemala, who fled the village of Panabaj when it was hit by a mudslide 10 years ago.

Soza has been working with students in her hometown of Qualicum and now makes the annual trip to Saanich to work (this year) with Grade 6 and 7 classes at Cedar Hill middle school.

Cedar Hill students are designing and creating Christmas cards, for sale at the Global Village Fair Trade store on Pandora Street along Market Square. To further support Aldea Maya, the Cedar Hill students are also selling beaded CHILL (for Cedar Hill) bracelets made by students in Guatemala.

“Soza gives an informative presentation to our students before they make the cards, with photos from the village and school in Guatemala,” said Cedar Hill teacher Ros Penty. “Students see how the people in Chukmuk live, the types of houses, inside the houses and inside the school, and samples of traditional clothing…”

Cedar Hill students also made bookmarks, in Spanish, which they’ll trade with a Spanish-speaking student in Guatemala. The catch is, the reciprocal Guatemalan student has created their bookmark in English.

“It’s not all about [raising] money for the students, it’s also about kids making connections with kids,” Soza said.

In addition to building the connections between international students, Soza’s mission is to help students learn the concept of appropriate aid, helping people become sustainable.

“Working with Aldea Maya fits in well with Grade 6 social studies curriculum, which covers global understanding and global citizenship,” Penty said.

Some of the issues to be explored in Grade six are poverty, inequality, economic interdependence, land use, access to water and human rights and freedoms.

“The partnership with Aldea Maya helps our students understand a perspective that is different from ours in Canada,” Penty added.

One of the key Aldea Maya projects this year was to install energy-efficient wood-burning stoves in the homes of six families, bringing the total number of stoves installed to 14. The stoves are safer, have two elements, and use a chimney, which many families don’t have.

Aldea Maya translates to Mayan village in English.

Cedar Hill student Christmas cards sell for $15 for a women’s health card, $20 for a garden and nutrition card, $25 for a school supplies card and $35 for a student school fees card, at Global Village.

Visit Aldeamaya.ca for more information.