Skills for Life began teaching carpentry classes at orphanages and children’s homes in Guatemala City in 2009, helping students learn valuable income-generating skills and build confidence. At Fundaniños, a home for street kids and other at-risk youth, weekly woodworking classes have been held since 2011. With a grant from Family Care Foundation, as well as some donated equipment, the woodworking academy at Fundaniños was expanded in 2012 to provide better training.
The vocational training program is also held at the Precious Moments School and Orphanage, and has previously been held at three additional locations throughout the city.
With hands-on guidance and instructional videos, the students learn the basics of woodworking and how to use a variety of tools including scroll saws, routers, planers, a lathe, drill press and hand tools. Beautiful hand-turned wooden pens are made on a lathe; students also draw and create intricate wood-burning art projects, and build functional furniture.
Additionally, CNC engineering classes are offered to more advanced students. At-risk youth are provided with an opportunity to improve their math and science skills using digital fabrication, which is a major bonus for pre-engineering students headed for college, or students pursuing employment after high school.
Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) Machining is a process used in the manufacturing sector that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Students are taught CNC to control the lathes, grinders and other tools. They are introduced to Vetric software to design their pieces and then learn how to use a Shopbot Desktop CNC router to cut and create 3D products. Products have included cutting boards, signboards, and decorative gift items.
The woodworking academy is a for-profit endeavor, enabling the orphans to sell and keep the profits from their products and learn the basics of marketing and entrepreneurship.