The Mayan people in Guatemala have been subjected to centuries of oppression and genocide, resulting in greater social and economic inequality today than in any other country in Latin American--which in turn has greater inequality than any other region in the world. Because of the government's tepid support for its public schools, scholarship costs are much greater in Guatemala than in any other country where CBB has sponsored projects. For a view of CBB families in Guatemala, click here.
Compassion Beyond Borders' scholarships in Guatemala are awarded to Mayan schoolgirls who are daughters of single mothers living in the outskirts of the Mayan city of Quetzaltenango. The girls typically come from homes without running water, electricity or even sanitation facilities.
CBB's scholarships pay the girls' school fees and purchase their school uniform, shoes and school supplies. Even public primary school is expensive in Guatemala, and costs increase sharply as a girl goes from primary school to middle school.
Many of the scholarship girls work and attend school at the same time to help provide for their family. A scholarship that enables a girl to attend school can give the entire family hope.
Lenny and Sandy, two sisters shown here, were both out of school, as their single mother struggled to earn enough money to provide food for them and their brothers. Both girls were put back in school with CBB scholarships.
The family used to live in a home with no electricity or running water that became flooded whenever it rained. The girls' mother had become despondent when their father left the family as she struggled to make ends meet. Nonetheless, she was so encouraged by Lenny and Sandy receiving scholarships, that she found a better paying job, even saving enough money to move the family into a house with electricity and running water.
A project director's story
The project Estudia con Amor (Study with Love), was named by its director, Sandra Alonzo, a skilled but low income Mayan mother who herself receives scholarships for her two daughters.
Sandra's family home had no running water or sanitation facilities. Yet, she knew of families poorer than hers. Her family had enough food to eat, she said, but others did not, and it is the daughters of these even poorer families for whom she arranges scholarships.
Sandra's husband, Carlos, provides for his family with three part-time jobs. Through her work with CBB Sandra says she has learned that "the impossible doesn't exist".
Claudia's mother did not have the money for her to go to middle school, and so she was working as a maid, helping to support her family. Then she was given a scholarship to return to school, first by CBB's predecessor organization and then by CBB.
Claudia never needed very much, earning most of her education expenses herself and asking only for what she lacked. With her scholarships, Claudia was able to complete middle school, then high school, and finally university training as a professional nurse.
Along with a team of ten assistants whom she trained herself, Claudia provided pre- and post-natal care to women and their newborns in 26 Mayan mountain villages of Guatemala. She attended the mothers and 400 newborns a year, visiting them in their villages every month. Under her care, the deaths of children under five years of age declined from twelve a year to four--that's eight lives a year that Claudia was saving.
Claudia went on to be responsible for the health care of 18 rural villages in another remote area of Guatemala. Again, she visits each village every month, functioning in fact as the village doctor.