Thursday, August 8, 2013

It Doesn't Only Happen In Guatemala

As board members of a nonprofit that concentrates on the humanitarian and educational needs of Mayan women and children, we tend to focus our informational reading on Central American issues. The internet broadens our horizons, as happened this morning, when I opened my email and received the newsletter from Madre, a nonprofit similar, but much bigger, than ours.
The title was "Girls should not have to marry to stay alive."

Mariela and her mother
Mariela,with donated school supplies

Their newsletter topic felt very familiar to us at Finding Freedom through Friendship. Many of the women in our program married men at an early age, to escape the daily poverty and lack of opportunity that was part of their upbringing. Madre is working to raise awareness of this issue worldwide. Finding Freedom only has the capacity to do so for the children in our program, in the tiny country of Guatemala. 
We are excited about our ability to educate Mariela (above), so that she has opportunities that were not afforded to her mother, who is illiterate. Mariela's mother has no hope of sending her three girls to school without our support to purchase school supplies, uniforms and shoes. 
 Uneducated or undereducated women worldwide are marginalized in every aspect of their lives; culturally, socially and medically. For every year of schooling a girl obtains, statistics show a five to ten percent drop in fertility. The cycle of poverty can be broken, one girl at a time. Children of educated females fare better in every demographic; increased mortality, mental health and education. 

Estela, a student sponsored at Mayan Center for Education and Development with FFF scholarship funds.
What a thrill is it to watch young ladies like Estela blossom in the boarding school ( she attends with FFF funds. Not only is she being exposed to an excellent education but she is also learning alongside young men who are being taught that education for girls is a valuable asset. 
She grew up in this home (below). Would you guess her background by looking at her now? Helping Estela and other girls in our program shine intellectually costs several thousand dollars of our already tight budgetary resources. It is commonly said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Estela's photo shows a radiant and confident young lady with hope for her future. Educating her is a cost we are willing to support. And her smile? Priceless.

Estela's home