For over 18 years, members of Perimeter Church have partnered with Dr. Hermann Alb of Medical Missions Ministries (MMM) as he has answered God’s call to provide for the medical and spiritual needs of impoverished Guatemalans. Understanding that educating the young is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty for Guatemala's indigenous people groups, MMM sought help from Perimeter School in providing mentoring and training for teachers in the villages served by MMM. Perimeter School staff and faculty have partnered with MMM to participate in annual teacher training seminars held annually in Guatemala. Our students and their families prayerfully and financially support this mission, as well as help provide for the spiritual and physical needs of village school children.
Medical Missions Ministries
Beginning his ministry by trekking to remote villages with little or no access to medical care, Dr. Alb now heads the Medical Missions Ministries (MMM) center in Guatemala City hosting a constant inflowing of Christian teams from different churches all over the United States seeking to serve our Lord by serving the sick and the poor alongside Dr. Alb. These teams go to outlying villages, holding free clinics to address medical needs. They also dispense eyeglasses, vitamins, eye drops, and basic first aid essentials.
MMM Seeks Help From Perimeter School
Recognizing that education is a vital component in addressing the long term needs of Guatemalans, Dr. Alb and David Polstra, serving as Director of MMM and Perimeter Church’s primary liaison with the ministry, examined the successful partnership of Perimeter School with the Karanse School in Tanzania. Could such a partnership work in Guatemala? Hermann and David asked Headmaster Bobby Scott and Admissions Director Sue Fowler this question, resulting in Perimeter School’s sending an exploratory team to Guatemala in 2007.
Perimeter School's Exploratory Team Visits Guatemala/Xetzitzi Village
This team visited the government school in the village of Xetzitzi (pronounced (shet’-zi-tzi). This village is known for its extreme poverty and the difficulty in reaching it, being situated very high in Guatemala’s mountainous terrain. The dirt roads are often blocked by mudslides, making already substandard roads impassable. While serving this community with free medical clinics for many years, Dr. Alb and MMM experienced firsthand the desperate need for improvements in all aspects of the education system. Dr. Alb’s church in Guatemala City, Vida Real, had been generously providing the vital resources to build and equip the school, yet the teachers were in need of more training and preparation in order to adequately meet their students’ needs. In Guatemala, students who choose to be teachers make this decision at 16 or 17 years of age. These students go to school for 6 months of training while working in a school as “teachers”. Once they have completed their 6 months of instruction and training, they are credentialed teachers and can obtain a teaching job. These young people are working hard to teach their younger counterparts, but are, understandably, not truly equipped to do so.
A Project Initiated
A project to help this struggling village school, as well as others, was envisioned and launched. Our vision is to partner with Vida Real church and the Medical Missions Ministries in Guatemala City to help further prepare the teachers from selected villages. Perimeter School with MMM have begun a yearly January Teachers Conference, held at the MMM Center in Guatemala City. A team of Perimeter School teachers travel to Guatemala to lead professional development for the village teachers, who are bused into MMM for the conference. This teaching team develops the lessons that they think will be most beneficial for the participants. Upon completing this two-day training, the Perimeter School team then goes out into the schools to help mentor these teachers in applying the lessons learned during the conference.
Many of our school families sponsor children in Guatemala. These sponsorship opportunities are available as a result of a partnership between Perimeter Church and Compassion International. Jointly, these two agencies work with the sponsors to provide the sponsored children with daily nourishment, education, health benefits, and social interaction, all of which aid in their development.
The students in Perimeter School participate in supporting the Guatemala Schools in many ways. Through the contributions of their families, our students may sponsor and pray for a child individually. A Perimeter classroom may adopt a Guatemalan classroom of children and pray for them by name, regularly writing letters, sending pictures and small gifts. There are also several popular “Jeans Days” throughout the year in which the children donate $1 to take a break from our standardized dress and wear blue jeans to school – collected funds go toward purchasing school supplies for the Guatemalan Teachers Conference.
Our hope is that if we can continue a training conference of this type on a regular basis, we will be able to help the Guatemala people help themselves as they live, work, and move throughout the country in which they live. Through building relationships with each of these schools and the teachers therein, we hope to be able to provide interschool communication within their grade level teaching teams and to be a light for Christ in Guatemala. Please continue to pray for this endeavor in Guatemala that God will be glorified through this effort and beyond.