It’s just a four-hour flight from Colorado to Guatemala, but it feels a world away. You land in the city and make the three-hour drive west to the highlands. With each hour you leave the familiar farther and farther behind. Paved highways give way to landslide debris; fitted American clothing is traded for traditional textiles; families travel on foot and carry heavy loads along the roadside; congested traffic and polluted air are overtaken by lush cultivated hillsides. Life is more raw way outside the city, but it is also more beautiful.
This fall we made that trek. We turned left off the highway and drove downhill among the cornfields. There, amidst the weighty injustices and raw beauty of a rural Guatemalan town, we delivered acceptance letters to nine new Reading Village scholars.
Chuiquel is the fourth community we will partner with in Guatemala. Its incoming scholars, like those who have gone before them, will be some of the first in their families to ever reach high school. Like teens the world over, these youth were gangly and fidgety, timid and awkward. And when we asked how they felt to be accepted into our program they squirmed and repeated predictable answers like “proud” and “happy.”
Until it was Martin’s turn.
Martin was one of the last boys to answer, and when we asked him how he felt to be a Reading Village scholar – to be given the chance to finish high school when 90% of his friends would not, to learn from and be mentored by our staff and alumni, to join an elite team of teenagers who are respected by elders and revered by children – when we asked Martin this question he answered with unprecedented perspective:
“I feel like a hero.”
He has no idea just how right he is. Help him live his way into that role, help him realize his potential, help him change the lives of hundreds of children by bringing literacy to a community which barely has books. Give the gift of literacy today.