Two photos, both taken with my iPhone: One breaks my heart, the other fills it with joy.
For two years, Raquel (above) was one of our Guatemalan sponsored students. We were cautiously optimistic about the opportunity that lay before this young teenager. The oldest daughters of widowed women in rural Guatemala carry a heavy burden of housework and child care, and Raquel was no exception. Her days were spent hauling water, grinding corn and washing the family laundry in a nearby stream. Becoming part of our scholarship program gave this dutiful daughter respite and opportunity.
Raquel’s break was short-lived. Her educational gift came too late to overcome a mindset of seeing herself as anything more than a young wife and mother. Too old to start literacy learning, and too young for marriage, Raquel returned to her back strap weaving, earning her a valuable $20 a month. She soon joined the ranks of millions of other Mayan girls who are destined to live a life of financial and personal destitution.
Mario (Right) has also experienced a life of servitude. He earns two dollars a day making clay roof tiles. This photo was taken when we drove by Mario’s work site on a brilliantly sunny October day when we were visiting his family, who have been in our program for several years. When he looked up and saw us, his smile lit up the field he was standing in.
We first knew Mario as a man with many burdens, living in the slums of Guatemala with his seven children and just as many problems. Humble and hardworking, this father knew that no matter how hard he worked, he could never afford to educate his six daughters.
Watching Mario’s children flourish in our scholarship program has been rewarding for us as well as for their father. His oldest daughter is 19, and is earning an income that helps the family with essential items. The family earns a secondary income from the store we built for them as part of our micro business program. Despite their economical progress, Mario still stands in the clay field making roofing products when work is available.
Two Guatemalans, both under-educated; one working so she can feed herself, the other working for the pride of adding to the marginally self-sustaining income his family now enjoys. Their faces show the difference in how they utilized the opportunities offered them.