Empowering Young Women in Rural Guatemala!
With friends like you, CasaSito Association is able to bring opportunities – education, personal development, psychosocial support, and extracurricular activities to young women, like Mayra.
When first seeing Mayra, she comes off as a shy young woman. However, once you ask her a question she is filled with life and eloquently shares what is on her mind. You would never guess she is just 16 years old. Mayra openly talks about her family, her school, and fearlessly shares her dreams. She plans to study medicine at university so she can ultimately become a pathologist – someone who studies cadavers. Her career choice is quite different from what most Guatemalan youth want to pursue. Many say they want to be teachers, secretaries, accountants, but Mayra wanting to be a pathologist is a first! When asking her mother about her thoughts on Mayra’s career, she said, “I want Mayra’s dreams to come true and if her dream is to be a pathologist, then I support her.”
In Guatemala, children are only required to complete primary school. It is then the decision of parents if their children will continue onto middle and high school. Most children who are not studying are indigenous girls living in rural areas often forced to leave school to take care of siblings, get married, or dedicate their time to domestic chores as parents do not see the value in educating their daughters. This was not the case for Mayra. Mayra’s parents, Alicia and Arnaldo, did not have the opportunity study and are illiterate. Alicia shared, “I can’t read. I enjoy looking at the pictures in the newspaper, but I have no idea what the words say. I speak some Spanish, but my native tongue is Poqomchi [a Maya indigenous language]. I didn’t study because I had to work. I wanted my children to study so they could learn to read and have better opportunities than us.”
The family of six lives in a modest home made of adobe and wood in the rural community of San Cristobal Verapaz, located in the department of Alta Verapaz – one of the poorest departments in all of Guatemala. Alicia is a housewife, caring for the family and attending to the household. Arnaldo works in agriculture but suffers from a hernia in his leg, making it difficult for him to hold stable employment, working two to three days at a time. The family cannot afford the operation and relies on the income of their two older daughters to support them. When asking Mayra why she wants to study, she confidently replies, “I know with an education I can find a stable job, have a better life, and support my family as they have supported me.”
With the support of CasaSito, Mayra can pursue her dreams. As a scholar, Mayra receives a partial scholarship to help pay for school tuition and supplies. However, this is only small part of the benefits she receives as a CasaSito scholar. She receives monthly psycho-social support from our trained staff and the safe space to share and express what is going on in her life. She also participates in our extracurricular activities such as math and computer club to improve her skills. However, Mayra really enjoys our personal development workshops, where she learns new things. Mayra shared, “I’m taking advantage of this opportunity with CasaSito. I committed myself to meet all program requirements each year. I know I will achieve them.” We are confident Mayra will achieve her goals!
Our investment in Mayra has developed her as a leader among her peers. Last year she decided to run for class president/ She told herself that she would give it her all and she won! She commented, “Even though I’m a woman I was able to win!” Mayra not only serves as an example for our youth, but for other young women in her community.
We are now asking you, our CasaSito family, to support us as we continue to provide opportunities to other young girls like Mayra in completing their educational and professional goals. We know by investing in them, they will achieve their dreams!
We have partnered with the Intrepid Foundation since 2012. CasaSito is currently the only organization they support in Guatemala. By donating through the foundation, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by the Intrepid Group. For more information about the Intrepid Foundation, visit here.