May 12, 2021

Thanks for your help!

Magdalena is 14 years old and lives in a rural area of the Baja Verapaz department. Magdalena's family is of limited economic resources.

Despite the fact that the situation in Guatemala due to COVID-19 is still the same and attending face-to-face classes is restricted. Magdalena, every day, makes important efforts to keep up with school assignments, because she knows that it is the way to carry out her life project.

Magdalena loves to participate in activities in her community, especially in projects aimed at young people; He is currently part of a club that promotes environmental activities (planting trees, installing garbage deposits, cleaning the streets of his community, among others).

“We girls have very few opportunities to develop. I am very happy and grateful for the support provided this inspires us to achieve our goals and dreams. I want to be a successful professional to help my family and improve the situation in which we currently live”.

Jan 11, 2021

"I will not stop fighting for my dreams"

18-year-old Miriam lives in a rural community in Guatemala’s Jalapa department. She is a spokesperson for Plan International’s Girls Get Equal campaign and an active member of the organisation’s Leadership School project.

Due to the quarantine imposed by the government in March 2020 to control the spread of COVID-19, her school is closed so she now spends most of time at home with her father who is a small-scale farmer who grows corn and beans, and her mother, who is a domestic helper.

Although she is missing school, she is trying to see the positive side of the situation and is enjoying spending more time with her family, especially with her father who is usually away during the planting season. "I like that we are together, in spite of everything, I prefer this to being alone at home with my mother."

But her biggest concern is her studies. It took a lot of work for Miriam to reach the last grade of secondary education, but with the school closures, she and her classmates have had to find alternatives ways to continue following their school programme.

"When the quarantine began, we came up with a system to share the contents of the classes. I charged my cell phone and downloaded the homework assigned by the teachers. But soon they stopped sending any content. I bought credit, but no longer received any class materials,” says Miriam with a little frustration.

She was due to graduate from school in October 2020, but now she does not know when or how they will complete the curriculum. Again, she tries to stay positive. "Despite what is happening, my goal remains the same: to achieve what I want from my life. This situation will not be the reason why I will stop fighting for my dreams; on the contrary, it will make me stronger to fight for a good future."

Jan 11, 2021

"My life is more beautiful when I go out"

Amelia (19) lives in a rural community in Jalapa, Guatemala. Her family consists of 9 siblings, her father, her stepmother and her grandmother. The absence of a stable subsistence income was exacerbated by the period of quarantine, which hit hard on Amelia's family economy.

As a spokesperson for her community, she maintains a strong capacity and commitment in promoting the rights and equality of girls, so she works hard with other volunteers and the community. Amelia says: "My life is more beautiful when I go out”.

However, despite her recent graduation as a pre-primary teacher, she is unable to find work in the community, so in the last few months she has added to her daily duties the support of her father in the production and sale of traditional sweets, both in shops and visiting private homes.

Speaking about the family business, Amelia comments on how the crisis has impacted the production of candy: "We have not been able to offer all the variety that we always produce. We only sell sweet potato in candy, because we can't buy hobbies or coconut, the prices went up too much!". As a result, what they earn from the sale is not enough to meet the family's basic needs.

Amelia takes turns with her sister to accompany her father when he goes out to sell "door to door" in neighboring communities. When she stays home, she helps with the household chores, such as fetching water from the spring, cooking and cleaning. She balances the negative and positive aspects of this quarantine:

"Among the negative aspects, I love being out of the house, I almost never stay in my house and I miss going out," she adds that for her it is very positive to have more time at home, to share with her 8 brothers and sisters. With them she practices and develops her skills as a teacher:

"I help my little brothers and sisters to go over their classes, to learn to read and write and to make some progress in their learning. I have a little brother in pre-school and I enjoy supporting him in doing manual work, which fills my life during this unusual period".

Amelia deeply misses her activity as a spokesperson and community leader: "My life is more beautiful when I go out to train, to work with other teenagers, like me, to participate as a spokesperson and meet many people”.

While some young people in her community have access to the internet and can keep informed, speak out and communicate, this is not an option for Amelia. The monthly cost of connectivity is outside her current budget. So when Plan International proposed making a video telling her experience, giving messages to other girls and adolescents, Amelia loved the idea and made an extraordinary effort to connect and express herself to the world again.

Her hope is that this time will soon be over, so that she can return to her activities as a spokesperson, continue her search for employment, and feel again how beautiful her life can be.

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