In February MayaWorks disbursed scholarships to 92 deserving young girls in six central highland communities of Guatemala. MayaWorks provides scholarships to the daughters of its artisan partners who are actively attending school and are achieving at least a C average in their coursework.
In total, there were 51 elementary scholarships, 27 junior high scholarships; and 14 high school school scholarships awarded. MayaWorks provides partial scholarships. With the income earned from weaving MayaWoks products, mothers contribute the rest of the money needed for their daughters to attend school.
Mothers are always very grateful for the help they receive from MayaWorks and are pleased to be able to contribute to their daughters' education. Across the board mothers say they want their daughters to have more opportunities than they were given. Many of the mothers did not attend school beyond third grade. Some have never attended school and do not know how to read or write but they will do everything they can to make sure their daughters complete their education through high school.
Josefa Rosalinda is a hard working young lady who, despite many obstacles, has achieved prestigious awards in her community, Santiago Atitlán.
Josefa's mother is a MayaWorks artisan partner who weaves clerical stoles and makes beaded jewelry. She works hard to provide for her family as a single mother but often has set-backs due to uncontrolled diabetes. Her shining light is Josefa. When Josefa isn't studying hard to achieve an A average in school, you can find her studying a chessboard. She's the reigning chess champ in her community and has been selected to represent her department in the national championship.
Josefa loves to read and dreams of becoming a lawyer when she grows up. Josefa wants to give her mother and younger siblings a better life and she knows she can do that through education and personal achievement. MayaWorks will be rooting for her at the National Chess Championship!
Josefina is 19 years old and just beginning high school. She hopes to become a teacher one day and help students just like her, students who struggle to stay in school because of circumstances beyond their control.
Josefina's education has been interrupted many times. When her parents had the money to send her to school, they would. Often times they just didn't make enough money to spare the expense of her schooling.
But Josefina and her mother worked hard to assure she would complete her studies. Josefina's mother never went to school and she very much wanted her daughter's story to be different from hers. A story that ends with Josefina having a steady job that brings her enough income to be independent and contribute to the social fabric of her community.
Josefina's mother began crocheting kippot for MayaWorks. With the income she earns from selling her yarmulkes, she helps Josefina with school expenses. She is also planning to send Josefina's little sister to school when she begins kindergarten next year.
A few years ago, Josefina began crocheting kippot herself to earn an income to help her parents with the family expenses. She has been able to stay in school regularly and will graduate in three years with a teaching diploma. Josefina has a bright future ahead of her. She is smart, kind and a leader in her community. She will truly be an inspiration to her students!
MayaWorks believes the development of communities begins with the development of its girls which is why, in each of the communities where MayaWorks operates in Guatemala, we coordinate tutoring and academic services for the daughters of our artisan partners.
Sandra, a second grade student from MayaWorks Rosa Moya Center in Comalapa, is only a little bitty thing but is so full of life, her presence fills the room. Meet her in her own words:
"My name is Sandra and I am eight years old. I'm in second grade. My favorite subject is Spanish language because I love reading. When I grow up I want to be a botonist. I love to take care of plants.
"I'm an only child. I had a younger sister, but she died when she was little. My parents take good care of me because they do not want me to get sick like my little sister.
"When I'm not in school I like to help my mom clean the house and cook dinner but I have lots of homework so sometimes I can't help her. I do my homework right away when I come home from school.
"Every week I go to the Rosa Moya Center to get help with my homework, especially math. I have trouble adding three digits. I love going to the Center because I see my friends and my teacher and learn lots of things while having fun. My parents are happy I have a MayaWorks scholarship. With the money they buy my school supplies and uniform.
"I like when people from the U.S. visit us at the Rosa Moya Center. I like making new friends from far away places and teaching them the folklore dances of Guatemala. I'm very happy at the Rosa Moya Center. Please come and visit me and my friends."
The following is a postcard from Lydia Sorensen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Guatemala, about her recent visit to MayaWorks.
In the town of San Juan Comalapa (sometimes known here by its Mayan name “Chixot”) a group of Mayan women are using the skills they have known practically their whole lives to craft more opportunities for themselves and their children. Most of these women learned to weave and sew from a very young age, and without the opportunity to attend school and gain an education, have been trying to provide an income for their families by making and selling clothing like colorful fajas (belts) and huipiles (blouses) that are similar to the ones their grandmothers made decades ago. With the help of MayaWorks, and the scholarships, resources, and training they provide, these artists in San Juan Comalapa are able to send their children not only to primary school but to help them get all the way through high school.
María Teresa Chipix and her sister Angela are two of the artists in San Juan Comalapa. Not only do both the sisters weave, but Angela’s husband and two daughters are also gifted weavers. In the courtyard of their house, Angela shows the belt that she is making (it will take about two weeks to complete just one belt), while her daughter works diligently on a huipil across from her (the detailed work on the huipil will take months to finish). Inside, tucked in a corner next to bags of corn, Angela’s husband is weaving a scarf, the shuttle flying as he adds rows of colors. He works full-time in the field but earns extra income by weaving when he’s at home. Leaving Angela’s home (across the way is her oldest daughter, weaving a huipil in her front yard), silence reins, interrupted only by the steady thunk of the shuttle—the sound of a family working together for a better future.
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