The value of a good education is priceless.

Tomas Jose is 49 years old, married, and has seven children. Four of the children are in elementary school. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get an education when he was a child because of his parents' extreme poverty. His father worked in Barillas and had to leave his home for work at 4:00am, and returned home very tired at the end of the day. The money his father made while working in Barillas was only enough to feed the family. There was no money left over to educate the children.

When Tomas was 14 years old, he remembers a gentleman from a nearby village that was looking for people who wanted to learn how to read and write. Tomas was working, but he decided to take advantage of this opportunity. The teacher came to his village every two weeks from 1:00pm to 9:00pm, and he had to pay Q0.25 (today 1 Guatemalan Quetzal is worth approximately $0.13 in USD) every time he had classes. He only earned Q0.30 a day so it was a huge commitment on his part to try to learn to read and write.

Because of the civil war, the teacher only was able to continue classes for seven months. Tomas had a big desire to get an education so with a couple of books the teacher left, he continued to teach himself. One and a half years later he was able to read and write.

He always said that if he had the opportunity to get an education he would become a teacher to help people who cannot read and write. He also vowed to improve the conditions of his family with a steady job. He is still looking for an opportunity to learn more and be an example to his children.

With every school that Hands For Peacemaking and Marysville/South Everett Rotary builds, HFPF coordinates with a government program that teaches elderly people how to read and write. The school in the village of Vuelta Grande where Thomas lives, will provide an opportunity for people who didn't get an education to learn how to read and write as the school will be open to villagers in the afternoons to take classes after the youngsters are through with their studies.

Tomas has been a leader in his village for 20 years. He desires to improve his village and for the children in his village to get an education. He sees the value that a person can have with an education.

The village of Vuelta Grande is over 100 years old, and has never had a school. Tomas learned about Hands For Peacemaking and the support the organization gives to villages in building and equipping schools. His dream of a school is finally becoming a reality. The villagers have completed the first part of the construction, and the Rotary team will soon finish the construction. He is extremely grateful for the opportunity to have a school in his village. The children will now be able to get an education without the need to travel to another village. He does not want the children in his village to suffer the way he did when he was a child.

You too can make a difference by changing someone's life forever.