Contexto Foundation Receives Wellesley International Grant

For immediate release:
November 8, 2004

Arlie Corday,

Contexto Foundation’s students and staff workers including Wellesley College students Roshni Sampath, class of 2004, and Bogota’s Analucia Martinez, class of 2007, standing in the far right back row.

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Contexto Foundation, a non-profit organization based in an underprivileged neighborhood called El Pueblito in Guatemala City, has been named this year’s recipient of the Wellesley College International Grant. The purpose of the grant is to provide funding to organizations with demonstrated need that have hosted Wellesley students or alumnae for internships or other learning experiences outside of the United States.

In the summer of 2004, Wellesley College’s Analucia Martinez, class of 2007, and two members of the Class of 2004, Jimena Leiva-Roesch of Guatemala and Roshni Sampath of Lincoln, Neb., worked with Contexto Foundation and its 40 children between the ages of 8 and 13. On behalf of the organization, the Wellesley students jointly applied for the grant in order to help Contexto defray the costs of building a Center of Culture and Arts in El Pueblito.

Current Wellesley sophomore Martinez, who comes from Bogota, Colombia, is considering a double major in Latin American studies and economics. She earned First Year Distinction and serves as president of Alianza, a Latin American-oriented student organization, and as a resident advisor in Wellesley’s Shafer residence hall. She is also a member of Yanvalou, a Haitian-Brazilian drum-and-dance ensemble.

Contexto currently operates out of the director’s house, located in a private gated community three kilometers from El Pueblito, a location that keeps Contexto both physically and culturally removed from El Pueblito as well as presenting a multitude of security issues. For instance, children walk 40 minutes to get to Contexto along the side of a busy highway with blind curves. In addition to the possibility of being hit by a car, some children have been approached by taxis offering them a “ride,” which may lead to kidnapping and child prostitution.

Having a center in the community will eliminate the security issues that currently plague Contexto, ensuring the future stability of the organization and the well-being of its participants.

Contexto was started in 2002 with the goal of getting children off the streets and preventing them from joining gangs. It provides weekly art workshops to three rotating groups of approximately 16 children. Guatemala’s most renowned artists and psychologists donate their time to teach courses in sculpture, dancing, theater, drawing, oil painting, literature and more. In addition, Contexto organizes three to four field trips annually to local museums, galleries and cultural events. The children are thus exposed to politics, art and history, subjects they could not access otherwise. Through these classes and field trips, Contexto encourages children to think for themselves and to see the world from different perspectives.

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