A workshop in Guatemala brought together Evangelicals and Catholics. Unfortunately, many Evangelical churches teach that you shouldn’t even talk to Catholics. It’s a big issue in Guatemala. “[For] Catholics to go to an Evangelical church is alone impressive,” says Lorena Escobar, Coordinator of AVP Guatemala. “By being in the workshop, they began to respect each other.”
After doing workshops with churches, El Salvador coordinator Salomon Medina saw how pastors began to promote and teach the principles of Trans-forming Power to their congregations.
In Guatemala, many students come from broken homes and live in environments with excessive bullying, drug consumption, extortion, and gang violence.
One location is Comunidad La Esperanza, a free middle school where PLA facilitates both formal and weekly mini-workshops. Comunidad director Hilda Vasquez describes some of the effects the school has seen from AVP.
“A nice experience was in a class where we had a very difficult student. He did everything possible to upset us: lifting the girls’ skirts, recording videos under their skirts, bothering the other classmates, organizing fights among the youth. He recorded videos and sold them.
After the first workshop, where in one of the activities all the classmates told him what they thought of what he did, he reflected a lot. Everyone reflected a lot about his behavior because many of them had rejected him due to his actions, and they isolated him. So, maybe that had provoked more aggressive behavior on his part.
During this activity when he understood what they really thought of him, he said, ‘I’m going to change. Now I’m not going to do this or that, or any of the things the students mentioned. The youth apologized to him, too, for sometimes isolating him and discriminating against him to a certain point. Since then, there has been a lot of harmony in this class and a lot of behavior change.”
In effect, the workshop raised awareness about issues of violence against girls, created a safer space for all students to learn, and affirmed students’ dignity. Ultimately, the learning environment improved. Students have shown more interest in school and leave wanting to continue their education.