On October 28th volunteer Keith Walker returned from one week in Guatemala where he was wrapping up a six year project which has raised almost $50,000 for tuition, uniforms, books, equipment and, in one case, room and board which has made possible the graduation and professional qualification of five young Mayan students.
He was also invited to the graduation of the last and youngest student, Mildred, who requested that he “stand in” for her father who died in 2009 of untreated diabetes. The graduation was followed by a wonderful lunch and party at the home of her mother Amalia.
None of the five students would have been able to continue in school beyond grade six without the assistance of the Cantel Scholarships and the Guatemala Stove Project.
Maritza Yacabalquiej was the first to graduate in 2016 from an education program. She has been teaching since in a Catholic-funded supplementary education program called “Compassion”. She works with high-needs students. With some of the money she earns she pays for part-time university courses. She studies Agronomy as it relates to climate change in Guatemala.
Wilmer Colop, 21, graduated in 2018 from a Business Management program. He was hired by a textile company where he had recently completed a placement. He is a stockroom manager. Wilmer also intends to continue his education, probably in the field of Industrial Engineering.
Yoselin Barreno, 19, graduated in 2017 from a Business Administration program and went to work in a bank in Cantel. She lives with her Aunt, Uncle and mother and was able to save enough money, along with a loan from her uncle, to buy 4 embroidery machines and now has 4 employees and her own business making “tipican” (traditional Mayan) clothing.
Dugary Xec, 19, graduated in 2018 from as an Electrical Worker. He was the one student with whom I was unable to meet because he was working in Peten in the extreme northeastern part of Guatemala. However, he was able to send this photo. He looks proud and happy. Dugary has been learning English on his own and phoned me from his graduation with Ishim’s phone; we had a long conversation in English. His ultimate goal is to qualify as an ESL teacher and he has begun taking university courses toward that goal.
Mildred Morales, 18, graduated on October 25th from an education program as a bilingual teacher, Quiche and Spanish. She is looking forward to finding a job, to help her mother with expenses and also to help her brother and sister to complete their educations and, in her words, to “become professionals”.
Mildred with Keith Walker and Clara Colop, Director of AMI.
Ishim Yac, with her husband Tito and their four beautiful daughters. Ishim has administered the Cantel Scholarships since their inception and she and her family have hosted me when I have travelled to Guatemala.