Association for Support of Indigenous Schools Throughout the Americas.

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View 2003 Projects

View 2004-2006 Projects

   Asista! is a non profit organization founded in 2002 by instructor Rita Wirkala and her students.

          The organization came to life in response to a need. After several years of visiting Guatemala in the Study Abroad Program through Shoreline Community College, and through engagement with local schools in the form of donations and volunteer work, it became apparent that we had the opportunity to contribute to the development of one of the most essential, yet most neglected aspects of Latin American society: the education of indigenous children.

 Asista! has already made contributions to several rural, impoverished Mayan schools in the highlands of Guatemala, such us the Instituto Básico de Santa Cruz La Laguna, and Escuela de la Pena in Monte Merced, Dept. of Sololá, providing school materials and funds for the purchase of classroom furniture and computers.

          The donation of computers made possible the foundation of a technological institute in the middle school of Santa Cruz. Many Mayan students from this area now have the opportunity of preparing themselves for future jobs in order to break the cycle of poverty.

          We have also provided a scholarship for a student, Carmen Romelia Ixim Sub (second from left in the picture below) to cover the cost of her studies in the Instituto Indigenista Nuestra Señora de la Merced, in Antigua. Romelia graduated with a Teaching Certificate in December 2002.

      Funds for the projects have come from individual student donations and an Asista! fundraising project. Through the initiative of student Carmen Marsall-Aldrich, in December of 2002, we purchased 300 pounds of organic coffee from a farmer's cooperative in San Lucas Tolimán. The coffee was sold locally, and the entire profit (80%) was sent back to several rural schools in Guatemala. One of these schools serves undocumented children from families returning from refugee camps in Chiapas, Mexico, where they had fled from the genocide against the indigenous people during Guatemala's harrowing civil war. These families, due to their precarious legal situation, are not considered, by the government, entitled to the right to attend public schools in their own country.

          For the future, we are planning more fundraising through the sale of coffee and arts and crafts manufactured by the indigenous people themselves, as well as the continuance of our direct donation of supplies, computers and scholarship funds.

          In March of 2003, a group of students travelled to Perú with the multiple purpose of studying Spanish, learning about the culture of the Incas, and finding new recipients for community service projects. This trip is open to the general public. For more information on projects, click here.

please e-mail ritaw@u.washington.edu with further questions.

Our work is totally voluntary, and 100% of the funds raised go directly to our projects.
Any monetary contribution will be deposited in our bank account, under the name ASISTA!


18318 Meridian Ave. N.
Shoreline WA 98133

Updated 12/1/06
Contact: Rita Wirkala
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