Tierra Colorada Secondary School Project Guatemala

Tierra Colorada is a small community in Guatemala. For many years Paul Layte and Nancy Cowle visited the local primary school each year and volunteered working with the children and trying to make some improvements to the school. In 2006 Paul and Nancy came to Sombrilla looking for help to rebuild the school which had become very run down and overcrowded.

Together with them and with a grant from the Government of Alberta we were able to add a second story to the school and refurbish the bottom floor. Soon after the construction was complete one of the teacher went to Paul and Nancy and suggested starting a secondary school program, making use of the space in the afternoon. It was a good idea as because most of the children in the community were not able to continue their education beyond primary school. There was no secondary school in the community and most families were not able to afford to send their student to the city for school.

The teachers went to work making application to the government of Guatemala to start the program. In time all the paperwork went through with the agreement that Sombrilla would pay the teachers for the first 3 years of the program and one grade would be added each year. After that the government would take over and would pay the teachers.

For many years that didn’t happen and Sombrilla continued to support the program in full. This year we have had some very good news. The Government of Guatemala is going to pay the teachers for one grade of the secondary program. Sombrilla will still be covering the costs for the other two grades but we have some hope that in time the government will do the right thing and take on the whole cost of the program.

It only costs $50 per year to keep one student in school. 

Support this project here, and select Tierra Colorada Project.

Thank you Donnan Elementary School

Sarah and Peter from Sombrilla with Ms. Good’s Grade 3 Class from Donnan Elementary School. Mac in the front row is holding a cheque for Sombrilla’s Yurac Yacu Project.

A big thank you to Ms. Good’s grade three class at Donnan Elementary School. We visited the school to talk about Peru just before Christmas. This May Ms. Good contacted us to let us know that the class had raised  $367.55 for our Yurac Yacu Project. The students made lip gloss and buttons which they sold to raise the money.

Thank you also to the Grade 3 Classes at Pollard Meadows School. They also raised $400 for our Yurac Yacu Food Security Project.

Thanks again to all the Grade 3 classes! It was wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with you. Your generosity has made a difference for Peru!

Sombrilla CEBES Scholarship Program

Sombrilla’s most recent project is in El Salvador. In partnership with local organization CEBES (Christian Base Communities of El Salvador, in Spanish, Comunidades Eclesiásticas de Base de El Salvador) Perquin, Together with CEBES Perquin we are providing educational scholarships to students studying at the post secondary level. Sombrilla commitment this year is to provide stable funding for 25% of the scholarship fund.

In El Salvador relatively few young people have the opportunity to continue their studies beyond secondary school. Some of the challenges that they face are that they have to travel to either San Salvador or San Miguel incurring the expense of transportation and accommodation; There is widespread poverty and the cost of attending college is outside the possibilities of most rural families. Migration tends to be an attractive proposition for many young people, they stop thinking of continuing their studies to try their luck in the north. For these reasons, without a scholarship, for the majority of youth, there is no possibility of further education. Even a modest scholarship, opens  possibilities that allow them to move forward in the fulfillment of their dreams.

Since 2015 Sombrilla has been providing funding for these scholarships. We are currently assisting 13 young people. To qualify for a scholarship, each student must have a financial need, have good grades and be involved in the local community.

An addition to the scholarship program this year is a more structured approach to the students community involvement. In past years community involvement was left to the discretion of each student who received a scholarship.  This year CEBES Peraquin has defined involvement in the local community as working with young people. Each student is asked to form a youth group, with 5 or 6 members, that will meet twice a month to reflect on the issues affecting young people today.

The main objective is to instill, in the youth, values that will help the them to lead a dignified life. Through their involvement in the local community, not only are the students be meeting a requirement for access to the scholarship, but they are also making a contribution to the prevention of violence among the youth, that has erupted along the length and breadth of the country.

The first Saturday of every month there is a meeting with the scholarship students and the youth leaders from the different communities to review work they have been doing with their groups and study the theme for the coming month. The groups have been working on themes such as Climate Change, Migration. Indigenous Worldview and Ecological Projects.

Already there are dozens of young people who, thanks to a small scholarship, have been able to complete college and now are working as professionals.

Our partners in El Salvador tell us that there is a lot of satisfaction taken from what these young people have achieved.  It is a pleasure to see them, for the most part, working with great social awareness. These young people have overcome many obstacles and in the process they have been able to benefit their families and their communities.

Support this project here, and please select Jose Garcia Memorial Fund

Meet Laura, our Board Intern

Laura was born in Colombia and immigrated with her family to Montreal, Canada, at the age of 16. Since she was very young she has had a deep passion for community service. That passion led her to apply for a board internship through the Community Service Learning Program at the University of Alberta where she is a student. Luckily for the Sombrilla board she was matched with us.
Since September Laura has attended Sombrilla meetings, and taken workshops on board effectiveness. Part of Laura’s internship is to do a project that will be of benefit to the board. Laura has decided to develop a series of workshops works on gender analysis which she will deliver for the board members over the next year. The objective of this workshops is to find culture-friendly approaches to tackle obstacles and make Sombrilla’s support to partner organizations more efficient. Laura hopes to continue to serve within her community, to inspire others to volunteer and give so people in Latin America can succeed and to continue being part of Sombrilla for years to come.


Thank you for Support for Women’s Health Project Garage Sale

Thank you everyone who supported our Garage Sale for the Women’s Health in Peru.

We are so grateful to everyone who donated items to the sale, contributed to the bake sale, made food for the cafe, (a special thank you to Communities at Play for the Pupusas and to Delmy for the Salvadorian sandwiches) and hauled truck loads of stuff.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out on the day to shop, eat, donate and support our project. You made the event a tremendous success. It is because of our supporters that we will be able to bring the medical team to Peru to train health professionals there.

Thank You – International Dinner 2017

On February 10, Sombrilla hosted another successful International Dinner at La Cité Francophone. Elizabeth Araya and her music partner Jamie Calderon started the evening by serenading the audience with sounds from Latin America. This musical duo captivated this audience with their beautiful harmonies and skillful guitar strumming. They were a perfect way to start off the evening.

After a delicious dinner catered by Café Bicyclette, keynote speaker, Lewis Cardinal, took the stage to speak about the importance of walking in partnership with indigenous cultures both here at home and globally to build a more sustainable future for everyone.

Audience members also enjoyed a fabulous selection of items to bid on in the silent auction, as well as a riveting live auction both to raise money for Sombrilla’s development projects.

The Sombrilla Board of Directors would like to thank everyone who attended the International Dinner, as well as all our supporters, donors and sponsors. Sombrilla raised over $18,000 from this dinner and we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for all of your continued support.

Your support will help us to continue with each of our ongoing projects. Some of the things we accomplished with your help are funding 150 pessaries for women in Ayacucho and Marian Peru, A year of school for 20 junior high school children in Tierra Colorada Guatemala and support for 2 students in El Salvador to continue their post secondary education.

We all look forward each year to this evening when we get to meet so many of our supporters.

The 2018 International Dinner marks our 30th anniversary celebration! Stay tuned for details. You won’t want to miss it.