KEEP GUATEMALAN GIRLS IN SCHOOL

 
$19,941
$30,059
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Nov 2, 2012

Las Hermanitas - WWT's Mentoring Program

Girls Club tutor and her "hermanita"
Girls Club tutor and her "hermanita"

Las Hermanitas -  Mentoring in Santa Teresa

 

Santa Teresa,  is a village about 20 minutes outside of San Pedro Sacatepequez, San Marcos, where Women Work Together works. This is a little town where all kinds of magic is happening. Dedicated teachers, passionate mothers, excited teens, and supportive community in general. And the girls are so into the Girls Club and the programs that come through our local partner, Mujeres Trabajan Unidas.

 

We came to Santa Teresa to hold a workshop about and with Las Hermanitas, a mentoring program we developed with our partners last December. Teens from our clubs mentor 8 or 9-year-old girls who are struggling to make it through 2nd grade. This is the most vulnerable age for girls to drop out of school, but not just because their parents decide that's enough schooling and they need to help at home. A lot of these little girls are lost academically. Their mothers don't read or write, so they get no help from home on their homework. Their grades are poor, they're discouraged, and they wonder why they're in school anyway.

 

Las Hermanitas pairs them up with junior high school girls who want to make a contribution to their community. Right now we're piloting this project in three villages, hoping to expand to two more. We invited five of the hermanitas to come to the workshop. We learned that all five had vastly improved their grades, had begun to love school and looked forward to being there. Plus they were mastering skills that they never did before. And they were very proud of themselves. They reported the following, in their own words:

 

  • I'm so happy when I see my tutor walking up to my house. We meet every Saturday at 3 for two hours. I ask her all kinds of things that I don't understand about my lessons. She's helped me with my math. I can now multiply.
  • We talk, we laugh. We paint, we read.
  • Thanks to my tutor, I'm a better person, I'm learning more in class, and my grades have improved.
  • At the last session, we talked about the planets.

 

We also asked them how they have changed since they began meeting with their tutors. Some of their responses:

 

  • My mother says I've become more responsible. Now I do my homework and I get to school on time. My parents are so proud of me.
  • I talk up more in class and I read faster.
  • I love the book of short stories we read together like "Caperucita Roja."
  • My grades rose from 70 to 85.
  • I used to get grades in the 80s. Now my grades are sometimes 90!!!
  • Thanks to my tutor, my handwriting is much clearer.
  • Now I pay attention in class. I'm more patient. I am more responsible.

 

We also learned some fascinating things from the tutors. Many of them had been torn about staying in school when they were young. Like so many American kids, they didn't like getting up early. Or they were uncomfortable speaking in class. No love for mathematics here. Yet, because their mothers taught them that without school their lives would be difficult, they persisted. And now they are communicating that to other girls and, most especially, to their hermanitas. They reported, in their own words:

 

  • By tutoring, I'm figuring out whether I want to study to be a teacher.
  • This project has motivated me to encourage other girls, not just my hermanita, to stay in school and make something of themselves.
  • Nowadays you aren't anybody if you haven't gone to school.
  • You have to put a lot of effort into your studies to succeed in life.
  • I like school and don't want to drop out, so I talk to other girls about this.
  • With other club members, we are giving talks and holding rallies about the benefits of staying in school.
  • We invite older girls to the Girls Club who talk about their schooling and success in life.
  • I brought my hermanita to meet my mother who is a leader in our community and she saw that because of her I am a leader, too.

 

Both tutors and Hermanitas said they loved their time together. Here are some of their reports on what they do:

  • Play games, read, draw, paint, practice their math tables, do puzzles
  • Practice grammar, like how to use commas
  • Speak English
  • Read new books
  • Write
  • Help me understand my homework
  • Take walks and just talk
  • She has showed me that I'll be somebody one day because I'm studying.

 

In all, we are all thrilled with this program and plan for it to continue and spread to other villages. We're convinced that it makes a real difference for the 80 girls who are Hermanitas and the 80 girls who are their tutors. They see their futures differently and so do we.

9 year old "hermanita"
9 year old "hermanita"
Santa Teresa La Hermanitas Members
Santa Teresa La Hermanitas Members

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