Scholarships & Training for Rural Guatemalan Women

by Kateri Tekakwitha Fund
Flory Jan. 2016
Flory Jan. 2016

Flory has had to persevere to overcome many obstacles in her life. This year she is within reach of her goal to become a nurse and finally a clinical psychologist.

Flory has had a history full of violence. Her mother died when she was a year old. She was left with no one to protect her and was mistreated physically and psychologically by her family members. In order to escape this situation, when she was old enough, she found work as a domestic. The people who employed her, helped her.

At 23, she went to live with a religious community, where they gave her psychological help and facilitated her studies. When she was ready to go on her own, one of her teachers gave her room and board, so she could go to school. She found work in a clothing store to support herself and attended junior high classes for adults on Saturdays.

When she graduated from junior high, she did not start studying her career immediately because she felt she did not have the knowledge she would need. She first studied a high school course in Science and Letters to have the tools she needed for her further studies.   She received glowing reports from her teachers and graduated in 2015 ready to move on


Despite all that she suffered, she is a friendly, outgoing young woman. She communicates with everyone. She is not afraid to share her opinions or discuss her problems when necessary.


This year, at 32 years old, she has started training as a nurse’s aide traveling three hours to attend her weekend classes. The week-end course is better suited to young women her age and she is able to work during the week to support herself. The career is a challenge and she must give all of yourself to do the written work, the exams, and laboratories all of which she needs to conquer.

She is very happy as her dream is to become a psychologist and this career is moving her closer. It has taken her many years of preparation. Her aspiration is to graduate knowing this career well. She will need a great deal of perseverance to reach this goal, but so far she has not faltered.


Since junior high, a Kateri scholarship has made it possible for her to study. Investing in young women like Flory, is what you, our donors, make possible.

Flory with a Kateri Partner Adela in 2013
Flory with a Kateri Partner Adela in 2013
Flory's Self Portrait 2014


At the most recent meeting, the scholarship participants focused on the theme of self-worth. The exercises on self-discovery and self-worth were led by Lisbeth. Lisbeth started the meeting by guiding the women through relaxation and meditation exercises. They moved into a reflective exercise, where the women pondered “What worries you the most?” They examined themselves and thought about their strongest qualities as well as their goals and desires. They also had the opportunity to point out the strongest qualities in their peers. Lisbeth explained that there are many aspects that we can recognize in ourselves, but other aspects are only perceived by others. The scholarship participants found this workshop useful because it reaffirmed their self-worth and taught them how to reflect on the good rather than the bad, which is not always easy to do.

Lilian, Juana, and Ingrid Esterina shared what is happening in their lives right now with Carmela in their individual conferences.

 Lilian’s studies are going well. Compared to the past, she has put more effort into her classes, and she is now more enthusiastic about her work and is eager to turn in her work on time.  The scholarship has motivated her to succeed in her studies going forward. It has made her more responsible. Lilian Elizabeth shares that accounting and social sciences are the most difficult courses because the two professors expect a lot from the students, but she realizes that she can utilize her peers to get additional help and she intends to reach out to them more often.

Juana’s academic performance is stellar; her average grade is 93. She understands the content of her courses well. When she doesn’t understand something, she is committed to finding ways to relate to the material and improve her comprehension. Juana shares that her family is constantly facing challenging situations, especially financially, because her siblings are also studying. What is positive is that she’s doing well in school and she is receiving support from the scholarship.

Ingrid Esterlina is studying to become a nursing assistant. She says it’s going well. She is getting experience through an internship. Each week she has gone to different clinics, visits families and assists in identifying health problems, and gives informative talks. She has administered vaccinations to children and assisted in the pharmacy. Ingrid has washed wounds of people who’ve arrived. The most challenging experience so far was working in the emergency unit where she gave aid to a man by washing the rotten flesh on his feet. Ingrid is thankful for her studies and opportunities to help.

All the young women in the Kateri Education Program are growing and changing.  It is helping open up to them new thoughts about themselves and new possibilities for the furture.  The program for each students costs $600 a year.  Make a donation today to show your support for education and new horizons for these young women.

Lilian with her younger brother and Sister
Lilian with her younger brother and Sister
Ingrid Esterlina
Ingrid Esterlina

At our recent scholarship meeting in Chimaltenango, our coordinator Lilian Emilsa Peren directed the group in singing “I Am a Woman.” In addition, Lilian led the group in reflection on the topic of self-awareness by analyzing the story of “The Pot of Three Meanings.” The story is about a pot that sits on the patio, owned by a family, with three uses: in the first season, the pot is used to store food, in the second to contain trash, and lastly, it is used to hold dirty clothes. The scholarship participants were divided into three groups and brainstormed together and charted their thoughts on how they could relate to the uses of the pot.

  • The first group, reflecting on how they related to the pot filled with food: they associated it with happiness, confidence, pleasure, honesty, love, understanding, interest, peace, positivity and self-esteem
  • The second pot, containing trash, the participants of the group related it to contempt, lie, envy, disillusion, suicide, hate, bitterness, pride, disobedience, ambition, and resentment
  • And the pot of dirty clothes, they thought of: pride, laziness, sadness, envy, and realizing you can change your mentality

Together, the whole group reflected upon whether our pots (or minds) were full, and what things we can throw away or wash to become better people.

Let’s hear from our 5 newest recipients about their school year and the workshop:

Ingrid  says she was nervous about her first exams in March, because it was her first time taking exams in the institution where she’s studying this year. She advises her peers to not give any attention to people who express negative things about you. She hopes this year God will grant her wisdom to succeed like her classmates.

Ingrid 2 notes that her studies are challenging, especially her first midterm. Human anatomy is a tough subject for her, where she must learn where to give injections and how to draw blood. Ingrid emphasizes that it’s important to be positive and to demonstrate that it’s possible to succeed. She says that we are all capable, the only thing is that some of us haven’t found our value yet

Darly explains that her studies don’t feel that difficult - it’s a matter of dedicating yourself time to complete your homework and studying the content to succeed in each course. Darly says it’s important to believe that you can accomplish anything. She also notes that you shouldn’t call anyone stupid, because anything is possible, if you put your mind to it. We should not hold onto the words from people who want to hurt us. It’s good examine yourself and understand your value.

María Alicia completed making a belt in her Home Economics course, her belt was held in the highest standards. She’s already had exams in her Home Economics and Accounting courses. María Alicia says every person should believe they are beautiful because God created us. Possibly there are people who you don’t get along with and they can say things like “you can’t do it” or “you’re not beautiful” but you don’t have to believe them. On the contrary, you should feel proud of yourself.

Elsa says her studies are coming along. It’s difficult for her to learn English because she feels that the teacher does not give very many explanations and she barely understands him. She has asked for help from her peers so she can understand and learn better. Elsa advises that we should tell ourselves that we were born with a purpose. God gave us the qualities and we should accept how we are. It’s important to also to practice self-care to demonstrate that we love ourselves.

All the new students are fitting in to the program and adapting well.  More about their progress next month.

Elsa Beatrix
Elsa Beatrix
Ingrid Estrelina
Ingrid Estrelina
Ingrid Estrada
Ingrid Estrada
Maria Alicia
Maria Alicia
Milvia Jesina
Milvia Jesina
Milvia with her brother and sister in their patio.
Milvia with her brother and sister in their patio.

The 2016 school years begins this week!  The new scholarships have been awarded to five young women.  Ingrid Estrada, Ingrid Esterlina, Maria Alicia, Darlyn, and Elsa,  will join the seven returning students, Aura, Clara, Flory, Glenda, Mayra, Florestina, and Juana, for a total of 12 young women on scholarship for this year.  They all are eager to get back to work at school. 

One of our priorities is to give scholarships to young women who had to leave school for economic reasons.  Ingrid Esterlina  is typical of the new students.  Her father is dead and her mother is supporting a family of four children. She had to leave elememtary school as funds were short and her family needed her to help at home.  After six years, she returned to elementary school and in 2013 finished junior high.  She is the only member of her family who has attended school.  In 2016, she will go to school to earn her certification as a practical nurse.  She feels that she can help her family and Society generally following the career of practical nursing

Sandra, Clara, and Glenda pictured
Sandra, Clara, and Glenda pictured

October marks the end of the school year in Guatemala. Our scholarship participants gathered for one last meeting to reflect on the past school year together. In addition, returning students worked on submitting applications for next school year, while the graduates prepared for their upcoming graduation party. All the young women also enjoyed preparing cards together to wish their sponsors a Merry Christmas. It was a festive gathering!

The young women reflected on 2015 by sharing their bittersweet sentiments. There was a collective feeling of relief for the end of the school year, mostly because many faced both academic and personal challenges. The young women also expressed pride and joy in their accomplishments, despite their many challenges. They never imagined they would have completed this school year without the support of each other and the support of Kateri Tekakwitha Fund.

One student in particular, Aura, talked about how she often felt discouraged in her studies. As a young girl, Aura did not have the opportunity to attend school. However, at the age of 18, through the support of the Kateri Tekakwitha Fund, she had the chance to return to elementary school. Although she often felt like she lagged behind her classmates, she pushed onwards to face her fears and overcome her challenges by finding creative solutions. She has since then completed Junior High! This year, she was nominated as the representative of her grade, a high honor given to the best student of the class. She represented her grade by carrying the flag in the Guatemalan Independence Day parade. Her parents and siblings couldn’t be more proud of her.

We congratulate and recognize our six high school graduates who will receive degrees in 2015 in the following subjects:

  • Paula - Teacher Training
  • Delia - Practical Nurse
  • Marielena - Bookkeeping
  • Clara - Secretary
  • Sandra Cecilia - Medicine
  • Sandra Lordes - English and Computation

We commend our continuing scholarship participants who completed the following grades in 2015:

  • Mayra - 7th grade
  • M. Ancelma - 7th grade
  • Florestina - 7th grade
  • Norma - 8th grade
  • Aura - 9th grade
  • Caterina - 10th grade
  • Juana - 10th grade (Education)
  • Glenda - 11th grade (Teaching)

A "Clausura" , end of the year party, is planned for November.  At this party, all the young women will celebrate the ending of another sucessful year.

Aura receives highest honor in her grade!
Aura receives highest honor in her grade!

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Organization Information

Kateri Tekakwitha Fund

Location: Pacifica, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Kay Sweeney
Pacifica, CA United States
$12,659 raised of $21,000 goal
270 donations
$8,341 to go
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