In the area surrounding beautiful Antigua, Guatemala, the unemployment rate is high, adolescents lack education, crime is prevalent, alcoholism is rampant, and familial violence is widespread.
Taking these problems into mind, the idea of opening a specialized technical school in Jocotenango, Guatemala, may have seemed like a risk, but it was also the long-standing dream of Patrick Atkinson, Founder and Executive Director of The GOD’S CHILD Project. In his own words, “It is the PERFECT place for The GOD’S CHILD Project to be.”
Construction of the school was completed on December 6, 2007, and classes began in January of 2008. The Scheel Center’s goal is to be a catalyst for community change by giving hope to impoverished families and abused or abandoned children. Hope is given in three forms: standard education, specialized technical training and community building.
For much of the modern world, formal education starts around the ages of 4, 5 or 6. By the time a child enters first grade he has often had several years of academic enrichment to better prepare him to learn. Students at the Scheel Center come from a very different world. Many of the students who study at the Center have been robbed of their childhood in various ways. They have not had time to play and learn. Many have not had access to basic necessities such as adequate food, clean water, shelter or medical care. For these and other reasons, the Scheel Center students have grown up without an opportunity to learn.
Before a student is in a position to successfully learn any subject, his basic needs must be met. Scheel Center students are provided with two filling and nutritious meals a day. For many of them this is the only food they will receive.