In a region where less than half of the population finishes primary school, it’s a remarkable achievement to graduate the sixth grade. This is especially true in the current year as Roya – a coffee rust spreading across Latin America – continues to devastate the Guatemalan coffee harvest, forcing more and more families to take their children out of school and push them into the workforce.
In the case of Susana Gutierrez, one of our sponsored students, graduating the sixth grade was even harder than usual. Her mother died when she was a baby, leaving Susana alone with her older sister and mostly absent father. All of the family’s financial responsibilities – including the cost of Susana’s education – fell on her older sister, who worked selling handicrafts on the town’s main street.
At the end of fifth grade Susana dropped out of school to help her sister. She made bracelets and earrings to sell at the docks where tourists from towns around lake disembark for day trips through Santiago. On good days, she could make a few dollars to bring home to her sister; most of the time she came back tired and empty-handed.
Midway through the year, however, she decided she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life at the docks. She told her sister that she wanted to go back to school and her sister came to Pueblo a Pueblo to ask if Susana’s sponsor would be interested in renewing her support for Susana’s education. The sponsor agreed, and at the beginning of 2013 Susana started the sixth grade.
She graduated two weeks ago. Alone, Susana stands as a testament to a generation of children capable of making decisions that, while difficult in the short term, produce real dividends down the line. Together, she and her graduating classmates show the power of people the world over to come together and create lasting change in communities in need.
We’re so proud of what these graduates have accomplished. To all of you who have played a part, thanks so much for your generosity. It really has made a difference.
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