lunes, 24 de diciembre de 2012

Happy Holidays from Open Windows

Happy Holidays from Open Windows Foundation!  We wish all the staff, friends, families, supporters, helpers, volunteers, donors, and well-wishers of our organization a very happy holiday season.

The kindness and generosity you have shown with your support of our educational NGO ensure that the hundreds of children and families we serve in Guatemala have the hope of a better, brighter tomorrow.

We thank you with a salute from our city of San Miguel Dueñas, where a local nursery who supports us has showcased its massive array of 50,000 poinsettia plants.

Happy New Year, and best wishes for a loving, peaceful, and enriching 2013.

domingo, 23 de diciembre de 2012

Science Lessons from a German Volunteer

This month, we had the pleasure of a volunteer visit from Richard, an enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer from Germany.  He wrote this greeting to us detailing his experience with our organization.  We enjoyed our time with him and hope he will always treasure his time volunteering at Open Windows.  

Dear Friends of Open Windows,

From the 25th of November until the 7th of December, I had the great opportunity of conducting science workshops with children at the Open Windows Foundation. I was just planning on a vacation in Central America but thanks to all the good things I was able to see and the kindness that I received in these wonderful countries, I wanted to give something back.

I left Germany when I finished my Masters Degree in Communications this October and went on for a ten weeks trip starting in Costa Rica and finishing in Mexico. My greatest experience happened in Guatemala, where I volunteered at Open Windows.  By volunteering, I realized that I could help children learn a bit more and get deeper in contact with people that live in the culture at the same time. Additionally, I found that Antigua is definitely a good place to stay. And what luck - the classes I taught the children about mathematics, physics and chemistry, turned out to be loved by the children a lot. My approach was to stimulate childrens' interest in these sciences and give them easier access to  topics that often are not very popular for youngsters. The workshops I conducted just use components you can find in every kitchen, and can create sustainable change regarding how children view on these topics.

In groups of 6 to 15 children we worked on three different science experiments. The first one was on computing volumes of geometrical shapes. Each pupil received a stencil with two shapes that they had to cut and fit together in the right way. Doing so, we obtained cubes and cylinders in different sizes and each child filled up one of them with black beans. The children were asked to determine whether both of their containers fit the same content, or whether one had a greater volume capacity than the other. When trying to transfer the beans from one container into the other, the children often were surprised that the same amount of beans didn't fit in the second shape, or the vice versa. The children learned that geometric volumes can differ greatly. I have to admit that I was also really astonished the first time we did the experiment

The second workshop was about temperature, in which the children constructed their own thermometer. They used a common glass bottle, filled it with red-colored water, put a straw in the neck and closed the space between neck and straw with plasticine. Then we put the thermometers one after the other into very cold and then into very hot water and waited until the level in the straw moved down in the first case and up in the second case. That is the very same principle that the Italian Galileo Galilei used centuries ago for experiments and visualizes the extension of liquids very well.  The children enjoyed this project very much.

The third and last experiment I led was about pH. When cooking red cabbage it gives a nice color to the water which contains a great indicator for acids and bases. When adding different substances the water shifts its colour to blue and green indicating bases as bicarbonate or backing powder, or to red when you add acids like the juice of a lemon or vinegar. It is easy but the colors that you get are clear and bright and I am astonished every time again that this is possible by using a simple vegetable.  The children were in awe of their new knowledge about pH testing.

As you see, conducting the workshops doesn’t require you to know what is happening on the molecular level into great finite detail. The general idea was to make the children understand that there is far more behind the obvious things in life and that they should not get betrayed by what they see in the first moment... A great lesson for life in general.

It was hard to say goodbye to all the children that probably started to like me and call me “prof” when they saw me strolling through the streets of the village. But the good thing is that the children and any new volunteer can easily go on with these workshops. I conducted the experiments with the teachers as well. I’m leaving all the materials they need at Open Windows. Now it's time to think big and wait until the first Nobel Prize goes to one of the children of Open Windows Foundation in Guatemala.

Thanks to Teresa, Luisa, all the teachers and the donators for their support. Thank you children for all the smiles you gave me. I hope I can come back soon.

Best Regards,


viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012

On November 11, 2012, our organization held its first flea market in Antigua. The organizers gave 10% of the table entrance fees to Open Windows. Open Windows received over 1000Q that day. The event was a success. We are hoping to have this event every year to help other organizations like ours.

Our successful flea market

In other news, as you can imagine, when children are on vacation from school our learning center is at its busiest. Thanks to all the volunteers who assist the teachers, we can help the many children who participate in our programs. Last month, we had two volunteers from Germany and one from Switzerland, and the rest are young kids from Dueñas.

Open Windows Volunteers from Germany, Switzerland, and Guatemala

One of our volunteers is Morelia.

Morelia is a 15 year old. Her mother sent her to Open Windows to work on something useful and not spend time at home watching television. Initially, Morelia took it as a punishment, but as the days passed she realized that she liked to come and be part of the Open Windows team.

Morelia's dad was killed a year ago. He was working as a bus driver from Antigua to Guatemala City and one day, a gang member shot and killed him. Tragically, owners of local bus companies that do not pay the taxes that gangsters demand can be targeted and killed.  One of those fallen drivers was Morelia's father. Morelia still has a hard time accepting the sudden death of her father.

We have various girls like Morelia with similar problems and have nowhere to go for help. We want the kids to fell good about themselves by helping others.  This is one of the many functions our learning center provides - the chance to be a kid for awhile, and the chance to help - in spite of difficulties at home.

jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2012

A Note from Wilson

At Open Windows Foundation, it is a delight to follow the successes of the children in our programs.
The highest achieving children that are involved in our programs receive scholarships to continue with their studies.  Wilson is one such student.  After a successful year, he wrote this letter to his benefactor, who'd like for us share it with you.

Dear Padrino,
I hope you receive this sincere greeting. I am hoping for success in your life as I write these lines. First, I like to thank you for the support you have brought us because this help is not only for me but also for all of my family. It also plants a future for our society, our country of Guatemala and I hope not to disappoint you.

I want to tell you that this has been a good year for me and it was the first year that I was a beneficiary of your help. I have tried to do better in my classes and I have done well in my grades. I like the class of natural science because I understand rapidly the processes of the human body, the environment and all that makes up this class. I quit this class and now in September, I started the class of physics and we started with the principle basics to learn them and to apply them. As I write this letter, we are close to September 15 which is our Independence Day. It is on Saturday and we are accustomed to have a parade where all the schools participate. The parade has a theme.

Next year, I will be finishing middle school and I hope to continue fostering success so I can be part of a generation of charge. In speaking of change, I refer to making a positive impact on society.  This starts with our conduct which reflects our environment of living together as a village, a country and a world.

Maybe this looks like a grain of sand, but this grain makes up the beach and the hope of the world. I am happy to have filled up a moment of your mind with words that have been conceived in my heart and birthed through my pen on the paper giving expression to not only a simple opinion, but that I think in the change of the truth of life.

Encouraging you to be part of the generation of change, I Wilson Orlando Meren Xar say farewell to you wishing you success in you professional life and even more in your personal life.

Wilson Orlando Meren Xar.