lunes, 30 de diciembre de 2013

Patrick's Fundraising Campaign

Greetings All,
It's been a busy autumn and winter for us thus far at Open Windows.  One of our great volunteers Patrick, is having a fundraising campaign to raise money for Open Windows Foundation.  His goal is to raise $20,000 for our student scholarship program.  The campaign started with $1,000 of his own money - now we need your help!

Visit: and contribute to Patrick's campaign to donate to our scholarship program!

Happy Holidays,
Your friends at Open Windows

lunes, 23 de septiembre de 2013

Summer volunteers make a difference

It was a busy and exciting summer at Open Windows Foundation.  With the help of generous and enthusiastic volunteers, we have many successes to report.

A group from Bob, North Dakota came and assisted Open Windows by building sheet metal houses for four Open Windows families.  They also painted a school in San José Calderas, which is a village about 10 kilometers away from the heart of the city.  

Volunteers Susan and Nikki shared two weeks with the children at our learning center.  They did fun activities to learn math, English, and geography.  In addition, the children expressed themselves through art.  Thanks for the techniques you provided to our teachers.

From England, Volunteers Frida and Anjelica did great work with the kids despite not speaking much Spanish.  It was a great experience and a big help for all.

Volunteer Sarka who was here for a week, helped register the children each time they came into the learning center and did activities with the children as well.

Volunteer Lisa helped with various groups of children, assisted with math homework, English, and other activities.

A group of volunteers from Inlex/CA came to Open Windows Foundation for a week to help out in the computer lab.  They taught different work tools for Microsoft Office and Word and Excel, taught English, and provided a host of different interactive programs that facilitate the children's learning.

Many thanks to everyone for their time, help, and commitment to helping our community in San Miguel Dueñas, Guatemala!

jueves, 20 de junio de 2013

Father's Day at Open Windows

This past Friday, we celebrated Father's Day at Open Windows Foundation. The official day is June 17th but we wanted to do it early because the schools also have a celebration for fathers.

We invited two people to give a talk at our learning center, one on AIDS and the other one on dengue fever, a disease caused by mosquito bites.  The celebration was attended by 50 fathers.

A grandfather asked permission to sing to the fathers that night to celebrate their special day.  Inspired by that performance, a volunteer from Peru also decided to take the guitar and sing a song from his country. Both of them had a great time singing, and the audience enjoyed the entertainment.

At the end of the Father's Day event, Open Windows founder Teresa Quiñonez oversaw the distribution a total of over 100 condoms to attendees.

This year the fathers were participating more than ever before - they were notably more relaxed.  The event was a success.

martes, 18 de junio de 2013

Volunteers building homes and inspiring families in our community

This month, we have had a many successful volunteer projects at Open Windows Foundation.  A group from the US that has worked with OW for the last two years has come back to our learning center for another volunteer visit.  The leader of the group, Bob Noel, was in charge of a project with us called "Our Little Brothers."

His group did four key things for us during their stay.  First, they built a sheet metal or "laminated" home for a family that has seen hardship. This family is composed only of the mother and two children, as the father tragically hanged himself a year ago.

In addition to constructing this home, the group also built a small room for a grandmother of one of our scholarship recipients.

Third, they built a room for a family who is living near the river.  This family had bought some land across the river and wanted to build a house. The problem is that there is no bridge to cross the river, with only two wires - one for standing up and the other to hold on.  They were grateful for the help with their house.

As if all this work wasn't enough, they finished their visit with painting three classrooms at the Institute of Calderas.

We are grateful for the generous assistance of these dedicated volunteers.  Open Windows Foundation thanks you!

We are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers.  Learn how you can contribute your talents to our organization:

jueves, 30 de mayo de 2013

Another visit from Dr. Dian

Dr. Dian is here at Open Windows for yet another week of treating children at our learning center.   

Among his young patients are a girl and a boy with a rare disease.  For these afflicted children, parts of their body have turned black; in addition, the liver swells with fat, whereas the rest of the body is only bones. For this disease there is no cure. 

The boy with this disease is not going to school because the other children make fun of him.  Children can be very cruel when they see someone different.

Thanks to Dr. Dian, children are at least getting a diagnosis of their diseases.  Others are being treated and cured.  This medical attention makes their educational prospects brighter.

Open Windows welcomes volunteers.  If you know someone who is looking to make a difference, please contact Teresa at

jueves, 23 de mayo de 2013

Families making ends meet in Dueñas

At Open Windows, we're grateful for the support of our volunteers from around the world.  In May, we hosted a group from Canada for two weeks.  They built a block room and a tin house for one of the families in our program.  

The family that received the new tin house is composed of a single mother with 5 children.  This mother is five months pregnant, and had been living with her mother in a one bedroom room. In total, there were 9 children and three adults living in that one room house.   Thanks to the work of our volunteers, now this family is so happy; they have a large room with a eco-stove and a place to play.  Despite the fact that the home does not have electricity, this is not a problem for the family.  They do not own a radio, much less a refrigerator, and they use only candles for light.

Near the location of the new tin home lives another family with 5 children. As our founder Teresa is very invested in the wellbeing of her hometown, as well as the fact that she is a well-known fixture in the city, she decided to pay a visit to this family.   She was very surprised to find two girls taking care of 6-month old little twins.  Teresa could not believe that these girls were caring for such young children by themselves.

That night Teresa woke up several times thinking about them and wondering how she could help.  The next day Teresa talked with the mother and asked why the children were by themselves.   The response was that the mother "had only had left for a few moments - nothing more."  Teresa replied that she had spent hours waiting and saw no one enter or leave the home.

The mother was afraid Teresa would take the children away from her.

The young caretakers

Teresa she does so much for the children and families of Antigua and San Miguel Dueñas.  She believes that families, no matter how poverty stricken, should not have to live like this.

lunes, 22 de abril de 2013

Painting school classrooms

A few days ago, all the employees of Open Windows, including Co-Founder Teresa Quiñonez and Board President Luisa Wheeler, all went to Calderas to paint few classrooms.

The Open Windows crew

But first, before painting, they had to fix the entire electrical installation. A school from Calderas received a donation of 15 computers, but the kids never used them.  Why? Well, the reason is that the electrical installations were so bad, every time they tried to turn them on the lights went off. 

A group from Iowa, USA made a donation to OW. This donation was to fix these schools.  So that is exactly what the team at Open Windows did.  

Painting the classrooms

Luisa, President of the Open Windows Board, freshening up the walls of this classroom

The finished renovated classroom!  

Thanks to all for a job well done, and many thanks to the generous support of our donors.  

lunes, 15 de abril de 2013

News from the People of San Miguel Dueñas

Fostering a love of learning at Open Windows

This week, we write to you with news from some of our Open Windows program participants in the town of San Miguel Dueñas, Guatemala.

Home of four Open Windows siblings 

One of the many families we are assisting is a single mother who has four children.  She cannot read or write well.  She received an Eco-Stove from Open Windows donors so that her family would not have to breathe in so much smoke while she prepared meals.  Their new Eco-Stove has reduced the family's wood fuel consumption by 60%.  

Now, they are receiving assistance with Eco-lanterns, a new community outreach program at Open Windows.  

The home where they live is so small that the toilet is near the stove. Despite her poverty, this lady keeps her house neat and clean and prioritizes a bright future for her children. For this mom, education is very important, so all her kids go to school. 

Open Windows Co-Founder Teresa Quiñonez with the children in the Open Windows Learning Center library.

Another mother, Maria, pictured above, is a mother of children who attend programs at Open Windows.  One day recently, she went about her daily task of getting firewood for her stove to cook for her family.  As she passed near the garbage dump, she heard sad whining sounds coming from the garbage area - an abandoned litter of puppies.  She looked at them and went about her tasks.

When she got home, all she could think of was the litter of puppies.  She knew if she did not do anything, they would die.  The following day, Maria returned for them and took all six home with her. Now she is feeding them with cow's milk.  Despite the poverty of this family, they have a big heart. They are always willing to extend a hand to those in need. 

Maria's family's new puppies

lunes, 8 de abril de 2013

Homes in San Miguel Dueñas, Guatemala

A family home in Dueñas

How would you feel if you lived in a house like this? The toilet is near the stove, the walls are made of sheet metal, and there is no protection or privacy. Many people in the world have options of where and how to live, but not here.  

This is a picture of a family home in San Miguel Dueñas in Guatemala.  The same family that lives in this home utilizes the educational services that Open Windows Foundation provides.  

Poverty is a difficult cycle to escape from, but with the help of education assistance and educational resources for children, families in Guatemala can hope for a better tomorrow.  At Open Windows, we are focused on providing educational opportunities to at-risk children in our community.  With our learning center, tutoring programs, computer classes, and variety of community outreach programs, we are committed to providing enrichment to children and adults in our community.  
To learn how you can participate in the programs at Open Windows, visit our website:

viernes, 15 de marzo de 2013

Reflections from John, a Dedicated Volunteer

The Story of the Sabino and Claudia Garcia Family

Open Windows is a huge success by any standard. Behind that success there are many small victories and individual stories of success.

One such story is about the three children you see in this photograph.

Their names are Alejandra (8), Rosa (12) and Gladis (10). They are smiling, like all the children at Open Windows. Yet, behind those smiles are lives with many hardships.

These are the three oldest children of Sabino and Claudia. In addition to these three, there are two younger children, Anna (1) and Melvin (3). Here all the children can be seen with their mother. They live on land belonging to a large coffee finca on the outskirts of San Miguel, Dueñas.

They have a private room which is where the family sleeps. This photo is taken in front of that room.  It is a large room with little or no furniture. The family sleeps on mats on the ground or on thin mattresses on frames that are low to the ground. They are fortunate to have an enclosed room with a roof as protection from the weather. Many families who work on the finca do not.
The rest of their living space is communal.

Here you can see the communal “kitchen” where each of the families cooks. Each family has a space in this trough where they build a cooking fire to cook whatever food they can afford. Some of the inhabitants sleep here when the weather is particularly cold or wet. These fires consume a lot of wood.

The family’s room is one of several around a central court yard. At any one time, there may be up to 300 people living in this space. Those without rooms sleep on the ground in the central courtyard under a plastic “lean-to”. The children play there and the adults gather when they have free time or to do tasks such as sorting out the bags they use to pick coffee.

The families cannot afford to buy leña (fire wood). So, one of the tasks relegated to children is to gather the massive amounts of wood that these fires consume each day. Alejandro, Rosa and Gladis are
old enough to do this work. As you can see in this photo of Rosa and Gladis, the children carry the leña on their backs from wherever they manage to scavenge it to their homes.

Sabino, like many of the men, works year round on the finca. Claudia, in addition to the full
time responsibility of caring for their five children, works on the finca when work is available. During coffee season, she picks coffee. During the rainy season, she works fertilizing the fields of coffee. They work hard and still do not make enough to feed and care for their family. The children must also contribute to the family’s income. Alejandro, Rosa and Gladis have to work in the fields alongside their parents. Often either Rosa or Gladis is left at home to care for the younger children as another one of their duties.

With so much work that needs to be done, sending their children to school is not an option. And this is where Ventanas Abiertas (Open Windows) enters the story. What is now Open Windows started out with as a dream. Teresa Quiñónez, the director of Open Windows, wanted to help the families of her hometown. She had and continues to have a heart for all the children of Dueñas. She quickly learned that the best way to make a permanent difference in the lives of these families is educate the children. She will do whatever she has to do to get children to the library. Open Windows is, however, much more than a library – it is a learning center.

In the case of this family, she has stepped in to offer help in feeding and clothing the family as resources allow. She provides assistance on a monthly basis, but her assistance comes with a price. Claudia has to promise to send her children to the learning center on a regular basis. Teresa and Claudia agreed that the children would come to the library in the morning and they would assist their families in the afternoons. A bribe? – perhaps. Bribery or not, everyone wins.

Like many of the children who first come to Open Windows, the children arrived dirty and in tattered clothing. Teresa teaches the families, as well as the children, about basic hygiene and the need to arrive at the library clean, body and clothes. Many of the children are also malnourished. Gladis, Rosa and Alejandro are all undersized for their ages, evidence of their malnutrition. At Open Windows, they are given a nutritious snack each day. It may not undo what damage has been done, but it is a help. Many of the children have never seen a doctor or dentist. Volunteers at the library perform checkups and provide some medical and dental care.

In addition, the children are learning how to read and write as well as do basic math.  This is a big accomplishment in a family where no one else has had any formal education - neither of their parents, for example, can read or write.  They also have classes in the computer lab with Professor Héctor.

These children first came to Open Windows as shy children, afraid and withdrawn. Today they are happily adjusted, loving children eager to learn. All three seek out the teachers and volunteers to give and receive hugs. There are many stories of hardship and heartbreak among most of the children at the library. Seeing them at work and play at Open Windows, you would never guess that the lives of these children were anything but happy and carefree. So it is that Teresa’s dream continues to live on.


martes, 12 de febrero de 2013

2013: We're off to a great start

Members of our community utilize the Open Windows Learning Center

Happy 2013 to all!  Our staff returned from holiday vacation on January 17 to begin a new year here at Open Windows Foundation.  Initially, our plan was to open early only for the purpose of completing the process of taking inventory on our extensive library book database.  However, while we were closed and busily working, young people in grades seven, eight and nine were literally knocking on our door.  They wanted to enter the learning center in order to do research for their school homework.  Of course, we welcomed them in.  This same group of children came in every single morning during our holiday closure.

Back to work at Open Windows after a restful holiday season

We officially reopened the learning center for the post-holiday season to the rest of our community's children nearly two weeks ago.  Children of all ages and levels are once again busily completing homework in our after school programs, taking computer classes, perfecting their reading and writing, and working together on fun projects at the learning center.  

Children love reading at Open Windows

We're also excited to work with a group of 15 diabetes patients in our community in our health awareness classes.  This community outreach program helps us impact the lives not just of students in our programs, but their family members as well.  

We're looking forward to a fun and productive year.  Join us on our journey to spread a love of learning  to all in the San Miguel Dueñas community of Guatemala.