• Michelle Bennett

Meet our partner in Steam

International Association of Atheists has been focused this month on raising money to provide STEAM kits to a school in Guatemala. We have been working with the organization Humanistas Guatemala in this campaign, and David Pineda is a founding member.

David grew up in the Catholic church in Guatemala. Although he was confirmed at age fourteen, he was already questioning his faith by then. He found himself attracted to books on philosophy, and - as he progressed through college - learning about and understanding biological evolution and other sciences. By the time his education was complete, he fully identified as an agnostic atheist, and he found secular humanism to be the worldview he agreed most with.

Living in a mostly religious country, David began to seek out like-minded people. As is common coming out of faith traditions, he wanted to feel less alone (and “Catholic Guilt” can be a persistent monster). At first, he found only two places that filled that need. One was a blog, and the other was a Facebook Group. Within these welcoming spaces he found not only camaraderie but others who, like him, had a desire for activism. He and about a dozen others came together and formed Humanistas Guatemala, becoming an official non-profit in May 2014.

Today they have four main focuses: promoting secular humanism, separation of church and state, encouraging critical thinking, and defending sexual and reproductive rights. Their Facebook page has nearly 35,000 followers and they regularly partner with other organizations in pursuit of shared goals. Yo’o Guatemala is part of the campaign working to provide “Kaleidoscope” kits to a non-profit school known as Qa Tzoleb'aal (“Our School”). There are paid teachers who are charged with sixty students, from preschool age through the primary level. The kits are mostly reusable, requiring only minimal replacement components, and there are two levels of learning incorporated into their design. David and his colleagues hope to inspire the love of learning with science, technology, engineering, art, and math by providing enough kits for the whole school.

“It’s worse than you think,” David said about public education in his country. There is no legitimate government oversight, funding, or transportation. Some schools are one room, dirt floor buildings, and kids will sometimes walk extremely long distances just to get there. If Guatemalan students even graduate secondary school, David tells me, they don’t graduate with the kind of education they need to get accepted to a decent college. Despite the challenges, one can see David’s passion. He has palpable excitement about the possibilities for these kids’ futures when sharing this project.

If you would like to donate to the STEAM campaign and help David and his friends bring kids a fun and interactive way to learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills, chip in!

Donate Now

For a look at what Kaleidoscope kits contain, check out this video:

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