This guest post is from Ana Teresa, a young woman who has participated in the Starfish program for five years. Starfish is our Q1 2016 Education beneficiary. They also received the Compassionate Impact Grant Q2 2015.
Their model is simple: they work with young women from low-income, traditionally marginalized communities who have the talent and desire to succeed but lack access to opportunity. Through an intentional, holistic program, they provide access to education, consistent and intensive support from peers and mentors, and a diverse knowledge base to ensure that each young woman can realize her full potential and ultimately create change in her community and her country.
I was born on July 26th, 1997 and I am 18 years old. When I was six years old, my father lost his leg in an accident. He was a farmer, so my two older sisters and my brother left school because my father was in the hospital for three months. My mother was pregnant, so my older siblings had to find employment and help my mother at home. When I was seven years old, I began to study in a small public school in my community. I began working when I was nine years old. Primary school was very hard for me because in the morning I worked and in the afternoon I attended school. When I finished primary school, my father told me that I couldn’t study anymore because he could no longer support me financially. I was so sad because my dream was to study and become an educated professional.
In 2010, I heard about Starfish, an organization that supports girls by providing them with scholarships. I went to the office in Panajachel and spoke with the director, and few days later, they notified me that they could offer me a partial scholarship to continue my education. In 2014, Starfish provided me with an opportunity to study in an international school, which I accepted because I knew that it was a good opportunity. I studied English for eight months at the international school, and now I am in 11th grade. Last year, Starfish gave me an opportunity to travel to the USA, where I visited New York and Colorado.
Starfish changed my life and my family’s life as well. Before knowing about Starfish, my father thought that girls shouldn’t study, but over time he changed his mind. Starfish changed my life through the mentorship program that we have every Sunday. My goals for the future are to study in the US or in Guatemala, and to be a psychologist.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story!
Starfish received an unrestricted grant from Foundation Beyond Belief of $8850 in 2016.