Guatemala Hope visits el Triunfo during March Break


By Emily Lukas

During the week of March break, a group from Essex County, called Guatemala Hope travelled to el Triunfo, a small village located on the west coast of Guatemala to help teach grades three to nine about Canada.

At the request of the Guatemalan teachers, 14 teachers, assistants and Spanish translators educated the students on Canadian geography, social studies, English as a second language and sports and health for the week long duration.

A Kingsville resident, Vern Batte, is a retired director of education and served as a principal for the group of Canadian educators.

Among many, Louise Elliot, quality manager of Amherstburg’s Topnotch Plastics, was a part of the education staff and did her share of teaching the students about Canadian sports such as hockey, baseball, football and lacrosse.


Topnotch Plastics is a supplier of lacrosse heads and helmets for Warrior Sports, which made teaching lacrosse to the students extra special and exciting for Elliot. Not only did the students learn about the game of lacrosse they also received donations from Rick Janisse, of Warrior Sports, and donations from Topnotch Plastics as well.

The donations of equipment included lacrosse sticks, webbing for the lacrosse heads, gloves, chest protectors and the specialty goalie sticks from Warrior Sports. The owners of Topnotch Plastics offered a supply of lacrosse heads and helmets for Guatemala Hope to distribute to the students.

Guatemalan students hold up signs along with their new lacrosse equipment to show appreciation to Warrior Sports and Topnotch Plastics who donated the equipment to them during March Break.

The Guatemala Hope sports team were very grateful for the donations made by Topnotch Plastics and Warrior Sports as they relied on the generosity of schools, local sports teams and organizations to help them find the equipment needed for their mission trip.

Elliot said having the lacrosse connection between her work in Amherstburg and her love for the students made this trip one of the most special trips she has been on.

As well as teaching in the class room, the Canadian teaching team held a professional development day for 55 grade school teachers, from Triunfo and nine neighbouring grade schools.  During the PD day the Canadian teaching staff shared ideas for classroom and behaviour management strategies with their Guatemalan counterparts.

“We were delighted with the response from the Guatemalan teachers, especially for the PD day. We had originally planned on serving 50 teachers but 58 turned up for the sessions,” said Batte. “They were very optimistic, energetic, and anxious to try out some of the new techniques for managing classroom behaviour in their classrooms.”

Guatemala Hope provided each teacher with a bag of teaching supplies and each school was given sporting equipment such as, a basketball, volleyball, baseball bats and balls, hockey sticks and a set of uniform tops.  The Guatemalan teachers appreciated the education and equipment as they face their students each day with minimal teaching supplies.

Two mission trips will take place in November by Guatemala Hope. The first trip will concentrate on housing and economic development projects and will meet with current bursary students and new applicants for high school and college bursaries.  The second group, including Elliot, will hold free medical clinics for villagers in el Triunfo and neighbouring villages.

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