Highland Support Project: Covid Update

Highland Support Project pivots to help local communities while grounded during corona virus pandemic.

Highland Support Project works with indigenous communities in the Highlands of Guatemala to build resilience and create opportunities. Usually, they run several trips per year, in which mission groups form transformational relationships with indigenous communities. Groups learn about food sovereignty, environmental challenges, Maya culture, and social justice in Guatemala while helping to increase the freedom, well-being, and quality of life for rural Indigenous communities.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that Highland Support Project cannot travel to Guatemala as usual, one positive outcome has been an increasing involvement with the Guatemalan community here in Richmond. We knew that the pandemic, particularly virtual learning, was likely exacerbating preexisting challenges facing local immigrant families. We began with a weekend of in-person community interviews that confirmed this fear.

Unfortunately, although it may seem that technology should be able to create opportunities and bridge disparities, it actually often has the opposite effect. Many families we spoke with found virtual learning much more challenging than in-person learning. Most parents did not speak English, many could not read or write in any language and lacked basic technological literacy, and virtual learning also forces parents to make the impossible decision of going to work that day or supervising their children.

In response, we have been keeping contact with many families we spoke with to provide support. Thanks to June Adams, member of Pt. Pisgah UMC and board member of Belmont Community Resource Services, we have been able to distribute bags stuffed with notebooks, pencils, masks, and other school supplies to families. We’ve also done home visits and had families come into our office in the Pace Center to problem-solve technology issues. We are still developing what long-term involvement with these families should look like, but are grateful for all of the support we've received so far and are looking forward to continuing this project.

Unfortunately, although it may seem that technology should be able to create opportunities and bridge disparities, it actually often has the opposite effect. Many families we spoke with found virtual learning much more challenging than in-person learning. Most parents did not speak English, many could not read or write in any language and lacked basic technological literacy, and virtual learning also forces parents to make the impossible decision of going to work that day or supervising their children.

In response, we have been keeping contact with many families we spoke with to provide support. Thanks to June Adams, member of Pt. Pisgah UMC and board member of Belmont Community Resource Services, we have been able to distribute bags stuffed with notebooks, pencils, masks, and other school supplies to families. We’ve also done home visits and had families come into our office in the Pace Center to problem-solve technology issues. We are still developing what long-term involvement with these families should look like, but are grateful for all of the support we've received so far and are looking forward to continuing this project.

MAILING ADDRESS

PO Box 5161

Richmond, VA 23220

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PHYSICAL ADDRESS

700 W. Franklin St.

Richmond, VA 23220

PHONE: 804-658-4064

EMAIL: info@thepacecenter.com