Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Partnering with Catapult to Educate Mayan Girls

The Catapult Foundation in New York City was started by a group of professionals who have backgrounds in journalism, technology and design, and who have a passion for gender equality and the needs of women and girls around the world. Catapult shares our strong belief that there is an urgent need for increased financial and social engagement on the part of donors to eradicate the obstacles women and girls face globally. 
You can learn more about Catapult here.

Finding Freedom is thrilled to announce our partnership with Catapult in our mutual desire to see positive change in the lives of indigenous girls in the mountains of Guatemala. One of the most significant ways to create this change is through lowering the barriers associated with getting an education. The obstacles our Mayan girls face in trying to gain even a rudimentary education in the mountains of Guatemala are stunning. Here is one small (literally and figuratively) example:

Alba, at home with her bedridden mother
 This is Alba (above). She is nine years old. Alba and her eleven year old brother are the caretakers for her widowed mother, who has been bedridden since Alba was a baby. As the only female in the household who is physically capable, Alba is the cook for the family. She is learning how to care for a household without a capable role model. Alba has the weight of the world on her small shoulders.

Even at her young age, gender roles are playing a formative place in her life. 

It is hard for an American mother to imagine a nine year old attending school while worrying about her bedridden mother, or after walking a long distance to a school that does not provide meals, school supplies, heat, or even a marginal education. What makes the effort worthwhile when you have to walk up steep mountain paths, in shoes that fit poorly if at all? In the rain, or fog without protective waterproof outerwear, after a night of restless sleep under a pile of used clothing because there are few blankets in the home? What motivates a young girl to bother going to school at all under these conditions? How does she do her schoolwork at night when there is no budget for candles?

Here is why girls like Alba care enough to try:

School, even as basic as the ones in remote rural Guatemala, offers a respite from the daily chores and helping with child care that many young girls do at home. Central American culture thrives on companionship and connection; being part of a classroom offers this. Without television or radio at home, where there is no electricity, sharing even rudimentary information within a classroom is the only way for a girl to learn outside of the constraints of her home. Alba's mother does not read or write. Her life choices were dictated for her by her limited options and her cycle of poverty. Alba, even at the young age of nine, knows that the classroom is her only chance to create any opportunity for a life that does not mirror her mother's. 
For this child and the twenty-nine other girls we are opening educational doors for, we are thrilled to announce that our partnership with Catapult has been a success. 

Our Catapult Project was successfully funded!
To read more about what this project will do for thirty fortunate girls in rural Guatemala, go to our Catapult Project page here: FFF's Education Project
Meanwhile, our deepest gratitude to Catapult, and to their donors, for making Alba's future brighter. A friend who met Alba recently remarked: "I love this child. She is going places!"
Thanks to Gucci Parfums, who donated the majority of the scholastic funds we needed, we have faith that she will indeed.