Guatemalan Women's Cross Generational Development

by MayaWorks
Milvia leads the Independence Day parade.
Milvia leads the Independence Day parade.

The United States Agency for International Development reports that Guatemalan children on average attend only four years of school and only three out of ten students graduate from sixth grade. Less than 20% of all Guatemalans graduate from high school. But amid these disappointing statistics there are shining stars, young girls who are achieving academic success despite the odds. Take for instance Milvia.

Milvia is a hardworking student who, one day, wants to become a teacher.  She strives to do her best in school.  She gets good grades and has exemplary behavior.  Her teachers credit her with being a role model for her classmates. When Milvia is having trouble in a subject, she seeks out extra help at MayaWorks' Rosa Moya tutoring center. There, she receives additional support and resources so that she doesn't fall behind in her subjects.

Milvia's ambition to excel also inspires her parents to work harder so they can provide her more opportunities. Both parents are weavers and use the income they earn making MayaWorks products to send Milvia and her siblings to school.  Milvia's parents are extremely proud of her and encourage her to continue to excel in school.

MayaWorks Cross Generational program is designed to give parents a hand-up so they can support their children in realizing their full potential.  Providing ongoing work for artisans assures families will have the income to keep their children in school.


Youngest scholarship recipients are the most shy
Youngest scholarship recipients are the most shy

On a recent visit to our artisan partners, I had the pleasure of spending a morning visiting MayaWorks' scholarship recipients in the small village of Agua Caliente in the central highlands of Guatemala.

It's always a pleasure to see the girls.  At first, they are shy and reticient when I meet with them in the classroom.  On this day, I brought them pencils with a little sweet attached.  We chatted about school and what their favorite subjects were and about the subjects they struggle with.  We also talked about what they want to be when they grow up.  So many want to be teachers, others want to be lawyers and still others want to be doctors.  

These girls could be anything they want to be.  They are smart and hardworking and most of them are attaining a B average in the coursework.  Those that struggle academically are bolstered by their classmates who help them through peer tutoring and just plain old positive encouragement.

The girls became less bashful through our conversation and, before I knew it, one by one they came forward to offer me their piece of candy.  They know I love the mango candies! Their generosity touches me; what little they have, they give to others because it pleases them.

Their tutor suggested we go outside and play a pick-up game of soccer.  If these girls are quiet and demure in the classroom, they are boisterous and aggressive on the pitch.  Within seconds they had teams picked out and organized onto the field.  Much to my chagrin, I landed on a team!  We had a great time laughing and playing and the girls were such good sports about my thorough lack of ball skills.

Before I knew it, it was time for me to go to my next appointment.  Parting is such sweet sorrow; the girls are sad to see me go and I'm sad to leave them.  I promise to come visit on my next trip bearing gifts of soccer balls!

Thank you for supporting our cross generational program. Your donations allow us to provide tutoring services in the communities we serve.  Together, working along side the girls' mothers, we can assure they will have a bright future.

Let the game begin!
Let the game begin!
Girls cheering on the gringa
Girls cheering on the gringa's attempt to play


A scholarship recipient from San Juan Comalapa
A scholarship recipient from San Juan Comalapa

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.

A mother signs her daughter
A mother signs her daughter's scholarship receipt.
Mothers' gift of gratitude for MayaWorks


Josefa with her chess trophies
Josefa with her chess trophies

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!

Josefina and her mother
Josefina and her mother
Josefina's little sister, Mirian



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Organization Information


Location: Berwyn, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jeannie Balanda
Executive Director
Chicago, Illinois United States

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