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One Step Closer to Her Dream

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WRITTEN BY Robbie Peterson

Today, an 18-year-old woman in Guatemala is one step closer to her dream as a result of a scholarship program in the Ixil Region of Guatemala.

Astrid receiving her scholarship money.

Astrid is a resident of the Rio Azul community. She lives with her mother, Elena, and her grandmother, also named Elena, and her aunt, Feliciana.

The only income for this all-female household came from her mother’s housecleaning jobs. Her father abandoned them when Astrid was born. Although it was difficult, Astrid began going with her mother to help with the housecleaning work four days a week.

A Gift of Housing

The home the women live in is not their own. The pastor of their church allowed them to stay there since they couldn’t afford housing. It is an adobe house consisting of one room and a kitchen, but it has piped water and electricity. However, there is no land for growing food. 

There are many challenges for the community of Rio Azul. There is no market, and the community’s school has a very high dropout rate. Leaders in the community say this is caused by a lack of economic resources as well an alarming rate of early marriage.

“I saw the great effort that my mother made just to meet our basic needs, and it made me realize I would not be able to study for a mid-level career. This made me feel very sad and frustrated,” Astrid said.

A Dream was Forming

When Food for the Hungry (FH) began offering help in her area, it gave Astrid hope. She received assistance that made it possible for her to graduate from high school. Then, she was granted a scholarship that allowed her to continue her education. “I entered the program to achieve my dream of earning a degree,” Astrid said.

Astrid completing her school work.

“I felt very happy and grateful to God for allowing me to enter the scholarship program because the tuition costs were completely out of reach. But when FH Guatemala reviewed my case, they decided to cover 100% of my tuition. They also supplied the school supplies I needed to continue my education.”

Sharing What She Learned

Astrid says she has dedicated herself to studying and getting good grades so there would be no issues with keeping her scholarship. “I am so grateful to those who gave to make this possible. Without them, I would not have been able to fulfill my dream,” she said.

Astrid is sharing what she learned with others.

“During my participation in the trainings, I learning about preventing domestic violence, and how to face the difficult situations we experience throughout our lives. I learned about creating support networks. And now I have been able to teach the members of my community these important things. Throughout all I have experienced, it has strengthened my trust in God. I feel more encouraged to pursue my dreams.”

A Better Community

Before FH came to the community of Rio Azul, Astrid explained, there was much division among community leaders. 

“No women were allowed to participate. Parents did not send their children to school, and mothers did not know the importance of monitoring the weight and height of their children, or how to feed them a nutritious diet,” she said. 

But now, Astrid said, Rio Azul has changed. “The community is empowered to work as a team and women are involved on the committees. You can see the enthusiasm of community members to become involved and enact change. Parents are now more concerned about sending their children to school and taking them to the health post to monitor their  progress. 

Fulfilling a Dream

“I feel very happy and grateful to see the changes in my community and my own life because of the guidance and support from FH. Because of the scholarships, I was able to fulfill my dream of graduating in 2022 with a Baccalaureate in Medicine and begin my career. 

“Because the community has learned the value of teamwork, there have been beautiful changes, and I trust that in a few years, these changes will be even greater. And I wish to be part of that.”

Hope for the Future

Astrid has greater hopes for Rio Azul. “I want to see more opportunities here for young people to continue their studies and have job good job opportunities here in the community where they can practice their profession, to support their families financially. 

“For myself, I want to continue studying and be able to support my family more. For my family, my hope is that they continue going to church and putting their trust in our Lord. And finally, in my church, I would like more young people to participate in the activities that are offered and learn more about God’s word.”

In 2022, 108 young people concluded their career training as a result of FH’s scholarship program in Fundación Contra el Hambre Región Ixil. 

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