Living in the Grey

We are now in a drive to raise our monthly giving numbers. Little amounts given by lots of people creates stability for us. This stability allows us to connect brilliant people to generous people. Our work gives local folks trapped in poverty a better chance at building their dreams. Eileen tells you about how hard this can be in the blog below. Consider clicking here and giving a little each month. It matters!

And now, from rural Guatemala…

LIVING IN THE GREY, by Eileen Maiocco, FTF Field Worker 2019-2021.

The past several weeks have been very full. I've been privileged to ride along with the ups and downs of people's lives here, and I'm grateful for every minute of it. There are plenty of hilarious moments with my students I'd like to share with you (kids say the darndest things), but today I'd like to share a different kind of story. Allow me to be real with you guys for a sec.

At school yesterday during lunch, I was eating with the other teachers in the little kitchen. As usual, I was content to be a fly on the wall, leaning against the counter, eating my rice and beans, trying to absorb the chatter of conversations buzzing around me.

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Suddenly, Profe Alan asked me a question that yanked me into the moment: "What advice do you have for her to stay in school? Is there really any reason for her to continue?" To my great dismay, I realized he was referring to the girl standing next to me: Herlinda, the student body president.

I was shocked. "Herlinda, what are you planning on doing for the rest of your life?" I demanded, admittedly without much sensitivity. But in my mind, my flash of reproach was justified: Herlinda is a good student and a phenomenal athlete, with confidence and leadership skills that far surpass her mere thirteen years.

As much as I wanted to council Herlinda to stay in school, my question for this poor girl surrounded by a circle of disappointed adults wasn't moving us to the heart of the matter. Herlinda gave an embarrassed smile, then quietly mentioned something about having children and relying on her future husband to support her.

Rescuing me from my confusion, as she frequently does, my colleague Profe Agustina began to explain. This family has ten children. The parents think it's a waste of time and money for their daughters to finish school. They just need to get married and have children so they can rely on their husbands.

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This mindset is more common than not in places like rural Guatemala. But somehow, seeing it applied to one of my favorite students with the brightest potential put me on the verge of tears. Realizing that nothing I said would make a difference, I just looked at this child, who already had one foot out the door, and repeated my Noni's words to my own mother thirty years ago: Herlinda, your education is something that no one can ever take away from you.

Her eyes shifted from the floor to the open door, and she ran outside to play basketball with her friends.

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