The youngest child of an indigenous family in Guatemala's Western Highlands, Esthela is the first female in her family to become literate. Now, she is months away from joining the less than 1% of indigenous Guatemalan women to earn a college degree. She only needs $800 more to fund the rest of her tuition.
After graduation, she has plans to open an English academy to teach English to other indigenous people. She needs around $2400 upfront for startup costs. This academy has the potential to transform countless lives— not only for Esthela and her three young children, but for her entire village.
Her letter is below. Please donate what you can— every American dollar goes ten times as far in Guatemala. GoFundMe takes 3% of every contribution; I have rounded the sum up. If you have any questions, please let me know at [email redacted].
Esthela with her three children, Kevin, Efren, and Lupe
My name is Esthela Gomez and I am a Guatemalan woman who’s looking for an opportunity in life.
I come from a very poor indigenous family in the indigenous village of Panajachel, Guatemala. I am the youngest of five siblings, and the only daughter in my family to attend any schooling at all. This is not uncommon in my village: here in Guatemala, the average indigenous woman only attends school for an average of 1.8 years. I was extremely fortunate to be able to get an education. My mother worked as a maid to a wealthy family, and when I was five years old, my mother’s employer noticed that I was trying to read a book, and decided to pay for my elementary school tuition.
I became the first girl in my family not only to learn to read and write, but to graduate from high school— something which is very rare in my community. When I was sixteen, I got married and had my first child. (In my community, most girls get married and have their first child before they are eighteen.) I was able to complete high school while also working full-time to support myself, my baby, and my husband.
I had two more children while continuing to work as a kindergarten teacher aide at a local school. I always wanted to study at a university and become an independent woman and be a light for my children and other indigenous women. I managed to receive a scholarship to attend university three years ago while also working full-time as a kindergarten aide and medical translator. (In addition to English and Spanish, I also speak the indigenous language Kaqchikel, and translate for doctors from the US and Canada who come to remote areas to treat indigenous villagers there.)
However, I need 5,800 quetzales ($800) more in order to finish this year. If I can raise this money, I will graduate in October of this year with a degree in English Education (Profesorado de Enseñanza Media, Especializado en Ingles.) Less than 1% of indigenous women in Guatemala have a college degree, and I am very proud to represent my community in this way.
But I want to keep going— after I graduate, I want to be an English Leader in my town and open an English academy to teach members of my community English language skills to help them get jobs. In rural Guatemala, knowing English enables you to operate a business and interact with foreigners, as well as participate in the tourist economy. Having English skills lets you translate for English-speaking doctors helping villagers who desperately need medical help, and I want to teach others to do what I’ve been doing. Overall, I am very aware that not all indigenous children, teen or adults from my town have the opportunity to learn English, and I want to change their lives and the way they think by teaching them this language and giving them more of the kinds of life opportunities that I have had.
I know that opening an academy will not be easy. I will need money for rent, utilities, books, furniture, and salaries for people I will hire. In order to make this happen, I need to start 18,000 quetzales ($2,450). That’s why I’m trying all my best and asking all of you my friends to help and support me so this project can become true.
Thank you so much for reading and for your understanding!
Esthela Gómez de Sahón
- Anne Schiff
- Michaela Gibboni
- Dana Mcdaniel
- John Berke
- Nicole Caudill
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