When the director of the community center contacted us about creating a scholarship program we could not have been more excited. We had been mulling over the same idea for a few weeks and had actually drafted an email to this effect, but on the day we were going to send it I hesitated because I felt that we might be imposing our ideas on the community center. I didn’t send the email that day, electing instead to pray about it and reconsider. THAT NIGHT we received an email from the center requesting us to consider a scholarship program, and since then we have been slowly moving the ball down the field.
There were multiple prerequisite tasks to work on before we were able to actually fund the scholarships. We first needed to determine how many students we could support and get a specific rundown of the expenses associated with their degree programs. We then established the reporting procedure with the leadership of the community center to insure that any potential academic difficulties would be identified and addressed immediately. We left it to Zarai, longtime director of the center, to identify promising students, and we were thrilled that we already knew two of the four students selected and had previously visited their home.
Finally this summer we were ready to transfer the funds for the scholarships. As I explored various mechanisms we could use, it appeared that wiring funds through our bank would be the most cost-effective way to accomplish this. I could not have been more wrong. After we sent the wire our nervousness grew day by day when the funds never showed up in the recipient account. This soon turned into frantic calls to the financial institutions involved, but no one was able to identify were the funds had gone. They left our bank, but did not arrive in the recipient account. The prospect of losing over $4,000 of our donor’s money was very real for over three weeks, and left me physically nauseous. Finally the wire services representative at our credit union finally started to investigate, likely due to her exasperation at my increasingly frantic calls and emails. We eventually found the funds in limbo, and had them returned to our account. This affair has probably shortened my life by 2-3 years, but eventually we were able to transfer the funds reliably using a money transfer service. To be fair, no one ever claimed that the Guatemalan banking system was reliable.
I am now extremely thankful to report to you that the funds have been spent on books, computer fees, tuition, and uniforms for the four students and we have received the necessary documentation for this. We are so thankful for your continued support of the center, and we will be organizing future fundraisers to continue to support these scholarships into the coming years. For those of you who have taken the next step to become sustaining monthly donors please hear this - you are giving these four students the opportunities that were unthinkable to them only a few short months ago. I know it is so difficult to be emotionally connected to those so far away, yet you continue to support us in helping kids you have never met. I don’t have the words to thank you enough for this.