GRACES launches new film— ‘Day in the Life: Eli’s Story’

Earlier this summer, GRACES’ film crew captured the everyday obstacles faced by students and families who attend Escuela Integrada. The short documentary features Eli (14), a 7th grade student at Escuela Integrada, and first premiered at the Quetzal Gala in September 2018.

Two of Eli’s siblings, Gladis (16) and Evelyn (12), also attend Escuela Integrada. Gladis is in 8th grade and Evelyn is in 4th.

Each day, Eli leaves his home at 6:30 a.m. to ride his bike 4.6 miles to Escuela Integrada. He must traverse a mile of steep mountainside and many busy streets to get to school. His sisters leave 15 minutes later to walk and take the bus over the same distance. At the end of the day, they begin the long trek back up to their home. Eli rides a bike instead of taking the bus with his sisters is to save his family a few quetzales (Guatemalan currency) each week.

“We are highlighting this family to show the difficult life circumstances and tremendous sacrifices they make to go to school,” said Hannah Nadeau, program coordinator at Escuela Integrada.

Four older siblings in the Cucul Maxana family attended Escuela Integrada, but dropped out of school to work, and two younger siblings currently attend another school nearby. In total, there are nine children in Eli’s family, all of whom are supported by their mother, Myra, who works as a maid in a home. Their father left to work in the United States 10 years ago and does not support the family in any way.

“It is very common for fathers to leave and not be held responsible for their families, therefore leaving the mothers in a very difficult position,” Nadeau said. “They have to face the decision to either provide education for their children or allow them to work to support the family.” 

The film follows a “day in the life” of Eli and his family and shows the difficulties the family faces for the simple task of going to school, among other daily challenges. Eli’s story is, sadly, indicative of the experience of many families who attend Escuela Integrada.

Escuela Integrada aims to provide for children in a holistic way—mentally, physically and spiritually—and to support families in breaking the cycle of poverty. To do so, the school depends on grant funding and the financial contributions of individuals. Every child who attends Escuela Integrada receives a full breakfast and lunch, a comprehensive education in accordance with Guatemala education law, and opportunities for spiritual growth.

Watch the film to see how your support can impact the lives of children in Guatemala, and consider Escuela Integrada in your year-end giving plans.