When Hurricane Stan hit Guatemala in 2005, it came with brutal force. The torrential rains caused landslides on the steep volcanic topography around Lake Atitlan. Maria found herself caught in a landslide.
Buried up to her neck in mud, it was hours before her family found her and began to dig her out. Her family lost everything and Maria almost lost her life. It took years for them to rebuild their lives. Maria, who started first grade late, was forced to drop out of school for two years as she dealt with numerous health problems and trauma related to the landslide.
In 2009, Maria found Starfish. In it, she saw a path out of poverty for herself and her family (her parents never attended school). She started 7th grade just months before her 19th birthday. This incredible young woman has blossomed in her own self-assuredness with her mentor, Andrea, behind her every step of the way. When she started, she struggled in school, both with her Spanish and the coursework. She was painfully shy. Now, as she starts her sophomore year, she is a vibrant young woman, who is eagerly pursuing her dream of being an accountant. Although the traumas she has experienced still haunt her, she is confident in herself and her direction.
Students like Maria remind us every day the power of the human psyche. We are proud to walk the path of education and empowerment with Maria as she achieves her dreams.
Posted on January 7, 2013