Roots are nurtured, wings are spread


Roots and Wings InternationalBy Cathleen O’Grady

For too many students worldwide, financial difficulties create a major roadblock to education, stopping promising students in their tracks and continuing the cycle of poverty. Roots and Wings International (RWI), FBB’s fourth quarter Education beneficiary, is helping to break the cycle by providing funding to promising students.

RWI Scholar MiguelRWI is one of FBB’s encore beneficiaries. In Q1 2011, the Humanist Giving program raised a $3,390 grant for RWI – sufficient to fund the Foundation Beyond Belief scholarship. The grant provided by FBB made a life-changing difference to Miguel Lamberto Sohom Tzáj, a student from Xejuyup, Sololá. Miguel graduated from high school summa cum laude, but was not able to afford further education, instead returning to work in the fields. Miguel went on to work as an elementary school teacher in his community, and is married with a child, but had always dreamed of studying medicine. The FBB grant has made it possible for Miguel’s ambition to become reality by funding his studies at University Rafael Landívar en Xela. Although he has had to take a break from studying this year due to family issues, Miguel has finished his fourth year of studies, and has one year remaining.

Every donation of $3,800 to RWI ensures that a young person living in extreme poverty – on an income of less than $2 per day – will have access to a four-year university education. The students funded by RWI and its benefactors come from rural coffee-growing communities in Guatemala, and are usually the first in their families to study past elementary school. Financial need and academic promise are important criteria in selecting scholarship recipients, but the students who are chosen must also demonstrate a commitment to use their education to promote community development.

In addition to giving wings to those seeking a college education, RWI delivers at the roots, with elementary school tutoring designed to combat the high rate of illiteracy in Guatemala. With 70% of the population not completing elementary school, current students have a high risk of dropping out, as well as inadequate support outside of school. RWI’s tutoring program assists elementary school students with their studies in both their native language, K’iche’, and in Spanish.

Roots and Wings InternationalCarlos Emilio Suy Sac is one of five children in his family, and the first to be enrolled in elementary school. His mother works in housekeeping, and his father is a day laborer, with their poor wages barely supporting the needs of the family. Carlos has been participating in the After-School Tutoring Program for the last four years, and hopes to become a teacher. Meanwhile, Cristina Manuela Pascuala Guarchaj López, also the first child in her family to attend school, has dreams of becoming a doctor, which will hopefully become a reality due to the support she receives from the tutoring program.

As FBB has grown, so have the grants raised for our beneficiaries through the Humanist Giving program. Our donation in 2011 helped change the course of Miguel’s life – this time around, your donations may go even further toward uplifting communities living in poverty.

For more information on Roots and Wings International, take a look at their website, or keep up with them on Facebook, YouTube, or their blog.