By Julia Tofan
Starfish is an organization in Guatemala that is using mentors to empower girls to grow up and achieve big dreams. The organization recently honored 57 graduates in a ceremony to celebrate their successes as the first from their families or communities to graduate from high school.
[b]Starfish Success Stories[/b]
One of these girls was Rosa Maria, a student who has big dreams to attend medical school but faces many struggles in getting an education, growing up in a single mother household with many siblings. At age 12, her mother could no longer financially support her tuition. Rosa couldn't stop going to school though. She turned to Starfish, scholarships, and jobs to finance her education. She attends school two hours away from home to ensure that she gets the quality education she needs for medical school, returning on weekends to help her family and attend Starfish mentorship sessions. Today, she is applying to medical schools and interning at a local hospital. She is the first in her family to graduate high school and end a cycle of poverty and gender discrimination. That's what Starfish calls the girl effect, explained in this video:
The Girl Effect from travis ning on Vimeo.
Another Starfish pioneer, Ana Teresa, is also making her mark on the world. She grew up in poverty and at the age of 9, when her family could no longer afford to pay for school, she started working to help support her family. At age 12, she found support from Starfish. Ana is now attending high school and becoming a leader for her community. This summer, she traveled to New York City to speak at the She's The First Annual Leadership Conference and the World Federation of the United Nations Associations. In the future, she aspires to become a teacher and volunteer to teach children in Guatemala English to expand their opportunities.
[b]There are more girls at Starfish still in need of support.[/b]
[font=OpenSansRegular, arial, sans-serif][img]/images/user/1842_6219955221226415849.png[/img][/font]
[url=https://www.givology.org/~rbaquin/]Rosa Baquin[/url] is a student hoping to become a pediatrician, but currently studying to be a teacher so she can pay for future schooling. According to The 2013 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum, 10% of indigenous Guatemala women enroll in secondary schooling and only 1% go on to university. Rosa has defied the odds in every way and continues to succeed. [font=OpenSansRegular, arial, sans-serif][img]/images/user/1842_1475931065291633027.png[/img][/font]
[url=https://www.givology.org/~majuchan/]Maria Ajuchan[/url] is another Starfish pioneer in need of support. She's passionate about computer programming and has many dreams, including starting her own business, starting an organization to help children in poverty, and becoming an engineer. Of Starfish, she says, "Thanks to Starfish, I am now more confident and have met more people. I've started to participate and express myself more. Before, I didn't know what self-esteem was, but now I do and I plan to teach it to others who need it. I feel stronger, better prepared to face obstacles, and more hopeful for my future."
[b]What's next for Starfish?[/b]
The average Mayan girl gets 3.5 years of schooling, but Starfish is powerfully changing that. Their next project is The Starfish Impact School, planned to open in January 2017 to serve 40 7th grade girls in Guatemala. Starfish is training teachers and planning a school model that will continue to uphold their values of academic excellence, grit, intercultural communication, vocal empowerment, critical thinking, growth mindset, and self-advocacy.
Givology Staff's Blog
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