Our Founder & Executive Director, Linda Smith, is in Guatemala this week. She travels down there a few times every year and when she does, the stories she sends back are bound to inspire! While her schedule is jam packed meeting with staff and scholars and partner organizations, we’ll try to keep you up to speed with the best updates straight from Guatemala. Check back often for more from the Founder’s Corner.
These Kids Are Amazing
Notes from Guatemala, by Linda Smith . September 19, 2013
“…Today I interviewed 10 candidates in Chuiquel. Three of the ten had lost a parent already in their lives. The mothers mostly take care of the home and family, and the fathers work construction or are day laborers on someone else’s land. It’s a very humble community with very few resources. These kids are amazing. I ask them if they could wave a magic wand and change one thing about their community, what would it be? They say things like paved roads, a park, a commercial district (so they don’t have to go to Solola to find a bank or market), free education, and many spoke of houses — bigger and safer. Here the construction is mostly one-room adobe brick — which is not safe in earthquakes, and not much room for 6, 9, 12 people. One teen spoke up and said she would change the minds of parents who think that kids who study are lazy and just trying to get out of working in the fields. I am beaming from their enthusiasm.
They dream of being teachers, nurses, accountants and doctors. And these kids have grit. I ask them to tell me about a difficult time they overcame. Most of the stories are about the extra costs their schools place on them. Things like special tights for gymnastics or a uniform for a parade or some such thing and their parents don’t have the money. They find a way to work to pay for it or borrow it.
One of the prospective students, a young girl, never knew her father. He died while she was in utero. But her step-father loves her she says. She wants to study so that she can give HER children the things she never had. She’s already thinking of the next generation. She wants her life to be an example for them, to show them it (getting through school) can be done. She needed Q80 ($10) to pay her colegiatura (monthly school fee). Her father didn’t have it. So she worked 5 days after school copying movies onto DVDs that her uncle sells at his tienda (store). She then told her mother that this was her gift to her for her birthday, that she paid for her own colegiatura. Like I said, these kids are amazing.”
[The stories of these students exemplify those of most of our teens. In a country torn apart by centuries of civil war, there is a generation of youth who not only don’t remember that trauma but dare to dream of a better future. Like teenagers any where in the world, they are eager to stand up against society, to speak out, to create change, but unlike many youth they have endured great injustices and fought hard for every opportunity that’s come their way. In 2014, Reading Village will be ecstatic to offer 8-10 of these teens the opportunity to participate in our Leaders & Readers program. Can’t wait to see what they do with it!]