The Kirk’s first mission trip to Guatemala took place in July 2006 when a group of 14 members led by Rev. Jody Welker visited. On that visit the group spent three days in Pala’, a remote rural village in the mountains of Guatemala. Upon returning from the mission trip, the group decided to explore a partnership with the Peace of God Presbyterian Church in Pala’. In 2007 we initiated our partnership. We began with 8 scholarship (beca) students and have continued to expand our work.
The goal of the Guatemala Mission Team of the Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian is to help improve the lives of the indigenous peoples in Guatemala. Projects that will be funded by the group should fall into one of the following categories: education, economic development, health care and disaster relief. All projects will have financial support from the Kirk of Kildaire and other contributors at the inception of the program but should ultimately be self-sustainable.
For more information, please visit the Guatemala Village Partners Facebook page.
Download the Guatemala Trip Application 2018-19 here.
Read the Guatemala Update August 2017.
Brenda Armstrong Library and Computer Center: Construction of the library was finsihed by the end of 2009 and inaugurated, outfitted and staffed with a Director, Assistant and Computer Teacher in 2010. There are over 2,400 books available for lending plus multiple educational resources. The computer room is outfitted with a PC lab, printer and copy machine. Yearly maintenance is performed by mission groups.
Educational Scholarships (Becas): Each new middle school student is assigned a sponsor from the United States who commits to help pay for their education for three years. Students are from Pala’ and neighboring communities. Current numbers:
• 37 Middle School students ($200 per year) – study in the local middle school
• 15 High School students ($700 per year) – study out of town since there is no high school in Pala’
• 17 weekend university students ($900 per year)
We require that half the students be female and half male. There is no requirement that they attend any particular church.
At the end of each year, we receive a list of 10 additional scholarship requests for middle school students and at this time we look for new sponsors. We also periodically have new high school or university students who receive scholarships. As students advance to high school, the cost more than doubles since they must attend schools that are in other towns; therefore, we also look for co-sponsors to divide the cost of the yearly scholarship. As a student begins high school, we ask the sponsor to provide their student a new backpack. Backpacks are extremely expensive in Guatemala.
Our sponsors and students foster a relationship by writing letters which are delivered at each trip. In January we also have SKYPE sessions so that the sponsors and students can have a face to face conversation.
All new scholarship students receive a back pack with school supplies in the January trip; additional school supplies are distributed among teachers. This project is now organized by Cary Presbyterian.
For more detailed information about this program, please go to www.guatemalavillagepartners.org.
Educational Workshops: Each January workshops are presented to the teachers in Pala’ to assist them and present them with new teaching tools. Most of the topics covered are at the request of the teachers.
We work closely with the Directors of the local middle and elementary schools . We have visited one of the high schools (Colegio Elim) our students attend and have led teacher workshops for their faculty.
Theological Training: Each January our senior pastor Jody Welker conducts Bible Studies and theological training sessions for the pastor and lay leaders of the church in Pala’. He has also conducted day long seminars for pastors from throughout the presbytery in Guatemala.
Men’s and Women’s Health Workshops: Since 2009, Mike Anthony, MD, has traveled to Pala’ on an annual basis and conducted health workshops for the men and women. We have partnered with a non-profit in Guatemala, APROFAM, to assist in general health seminars. We are now working with the Community Health Worker who services the village.
Musical Instrument Drive: At the request of the youth group of the church in Pala’, we have a continuing musical instrument drive to collect and repair used instruments that we deliver each January.
Kitchen Drive: In 2013 funds were raised thanks to the annual “Peach on the Porch” mission drive at the Kirk. These funds were used to help improve the rustic kitchen used by the church in Pala’. With the funds, the women of the church in Pala’ were able to purchase a new storage cabinet, 3 huge cooking pots, 150 plates/dishes and cups, 2 blenders, 1 teapot and 1 refrigerator.