If you’ve just finished grade 6 and you live anywhere in Canada, you’re expected to continue in school for at least another 6 years – that’s six years to study and play, mature, learn and discover who you are. But if you’re a Maya girl living in a third world country like Guatemala, chances are your school career is over. You’ll be expected to help your family by working in the fields, looking after siblings or even get married and start your own family.
Meet 17 year old Maria Susana, a young Maya-Mam student from the remote mountainous department of San Marcos in the western highlands of Guatemala. She has started to break out of the cycle of poverty laid out for her by the historic marginalization of her indigenous community. Maria Susana was one of the lucky ones to have her name put forward three years ago for educational support offered by the Guatemala Stove Project (GSP). Through contact with a Guatemalan partner organization, six girls were chosen as promising students in danger of dropping out of school because of circumstances of poverty. Maria Susana has consistently proven herself to be deserving of her bursary. She has completed 3 years of middle school and is now enrolled in grade 10. She is the first girl in her family to attend school past the primary level. After grade 6, funding in government schools is reduced and parents are expected to pay registration fees, purchase school supplies, uniforms, and contribute towards cultural activities, a strain on already struggling families. Many indigenous children drop out at this level due to cultural and economic pressures
Maria Susana’s struggles are not unique to Guatemala. Malala Yousefzai, champion of girl’s education and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, was given honorary Canadian citizenship on April 12, 2017. While visiting Canada to receive her award she challenged Canadians to seize every opportunity to make girls’ education a priority over the next year. Local volunteers with the Guatemala Stove Project are striving to do that by expanding our bursary program, which currently supports 12 Maya girls. We agree with Malala when she says, “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” Over 130 million girls worldwide are out of school today. Malala wants to see a world where every girl can complete 12 years of safe, quality education.
We are hosting a kick off for our GoFundMe campaign for Maya Girls on Tuesday, June 13 at the Hintonburg Community Center in Ottawa with a screening of the documentary Living on One Dollar. During the summer of 2017 we hope to raise $10,000.00 for our expanding bursary program. We currently have 3 students who are now studying at the 'diversificado' or senior high school level. These girls hope to graduate with careers that will help their communities and families. Imagine the impact they could have by being the first female MayaMam dental hygenist, nurse or accountant in their community! Nine more of our students are working their way through the 3 years of 'ciclo bsico' or middle school. Unfortunately their potential will be lost without our support. Every year when we travel to Guatemala with the GSP to document our work with improved cooking stoves, we meet hardworking families who strive to make ends meet and educate their children. Help us help families break out of the cycle of poverty created by limited educational opportunities. Please donate and share this campaign link!
Guatemala Stove Project is a registered Canadian charity #871977617RR0001
- Viviane Ayala
- Elaine and Peter and family Nelson
- Janice Reid
- Leo Murray
- Clare McCartney
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