It’s a charity that has a simple name with a deeper meaning. Brillo de Sol translated from Spanish to English can just mean “sunshine.” But “brillo” also means brightness, glow, and brilliance.
All reflect the sterling vision of the United States charitable organization that works in partnership with Asociación Brillo de Sol in Guatemala to support a school for children with a range of special needs.
Founded in 2005, the charity, based stateside in Baltimore, Maryland, works each day to transform lives through education, guided by humanity and respect for individuality.
Below, Michael Fraas Professor explains what you need to know about this life-changing charity.
It Celebrates the Potential of Children with Bright Minds
Part groundbreaking education program, part community outreach, the organization launched 16 years ago by helping a few students at the home of Letty Lopez Contreras, the organization’s founder and executive director.
It now supports more than 85 active students and their families, specializing in a strong early learning program, as well as focuses including parent education, speech therapy, teacher training, cooking classes, karate, and psychology.
Since its founding, more than 450 students between the ages of 4 and 18 with learning challenges and other forms of disabilities have been educated through Brillo de Sol. Every family pays a small amount of tuition, and each month there is a “parent’s school,” where fathers and mothers participate in their child’s education and work with the school’s teachers.
It Honors Individuality
Education is paramount, but Brillo de Sol also promotes self-esteem, helps students discover their own inner abilities and talent, and develop important thinking skills using a curriculum that is also tailored to the needs of individual students.
The children that the charity helps educate often struggle with traditional methods of teaching and are frequently removed from other schools despite being talented and gifted. They frequently grow up in extreme poverty, have emotional problems.
Its Vision is Inclusion
Asociación Brillo de Sol, a registered non-governmental organization, operates the school locally in San Gaspar Vivar in the La Antigua municipality of Guatemala, a gorgeous city dotted by colorful homes, mountains, volcanoes, and known for its indigenous Latino and Mayan residents.
It was founded to be a model of a school that prioritizes inclusivity and inspires other schools to be more dedicated to diversity. Its values also include solidarity, individuality, faith, and empathy.
Brillo de Sol Has Many Purposes
Along with educational support, tuition assistance, and general fundraising, the organization directly funds Asociación Brillo de Sol’s teaching and administration costs and the costs of specialized programs and teacher training.
Additionally, the organization educates the public about the health and social needs of children and families in Guatemala, recruits and coordinates education professionals and volunteers in North America, and works tirelessly to improve the health and education of Guatemalan indigenous communities by working with other groups and agencies that also support Asociación Brillo de Sol.
Skill Development and Job Training are Key
Along with specialized therapies and programs for children who are blind, deaf, and have Down syndrome, Brillo de Sol also supports the school’s work preparation efforts in everything from carpentry and cooking to crafts and even a parenting school.
In Guatemala, schools like Asociación Brillo de Sol are rare. Students with learning difficulties, autism, and others simply do not have many opportunities to get the support they need in other schools. The specialized schools that do exist are usually too expensive for the large population who needs them the most.
Many Different Teaching and Rehabilitation Methods are Used
These include Neuronet, Montessori, Estrellita, Champions, and more, as well as using the national curriculum as a base. However, the organization believes that the best teaching approach must include unconditional love, good humor, perseverance, and acceptance.
There are Many Ways to Show Your Support
Those interested in donating to Brillo de Sol have several options, including single and monthly donations. Annual half scholarships for students are supported with a $350 donation, with a full annual scholarship supported by $700. A $30 or $60 monthly donation also supports a half scholarship and a full scholarship, respectively.
Donations can be made securely on the Brillo de Sol website. Donations are also accepted by check, sent to Brillo de Sol USA, 6605 Walnutwood Circle, Baltimore, Maryland 21212.
Brillo de Sol supporters get regular updates on the child they sponsor, and some write letters and make gifts for their sponsors. Donations also help with teacher salaries, educational materials, and rent.