A few weeks ago, Mayan Hands held its second yearly scholarship gathering. As always, it was a time of celebration filled with optimism and joy, interaction among mothers and daughters from different villages, grateful girls and proud mothers, and a delicious lunch.
For the first time, thanks to our donors, Mayan Hands is able to support 50 scholarships. Thirty eight of the scholarships are for high school students, six are for 6th grade, and six are for young women enrolled at the university.
The mothers reminisced about the times they were growing up without the opportunity for an education. Their parents were very poor and could not afford to give up their daughters’ work. The girls did all kinds of work in the household, cared for their younger siblings, looked after the animals, help their mothers with the cooking, haul water and firewood from far away, etc. And the thinking was, at the time, that boys were the ones who needed an education because they would have to leave their communities to find a job.
There are still too many Mayan families trapped in extreme poverty where the girls stay home and work. They are married off young because their parents cannot support them. They go on to become mothers at an early age and thus the poverty cycle is reproduced.
The artisans who work with Mayan Hands see clearly the importance of supporting their daughters’ education. They know the girls need to learn Spanish and have a profession that will enable them to transcend poverty.
Mothers beamed as their daughters came to the microphone. The girls thanked their parents for their support. They thanked donors for the opportunity to study. And they talked about their dreams for the future.
Isidra, who studies nursing as a mid-level high school degree, wishes to continue on this path at the University, and become a professional nurse to help people in need in different indigenous communities. Ofelia dreams of becoming a designer and working with weavers in her community and beyond to create and export their products so they can receive a steady income. Juanita, who is on her way to becoming a preschool teacher (also requiring a high school degree), spoke of her fascination with her psychology classes and her hope to study Clinical Psychology at the university. So many wonderful dreams!
We are delighted to see this new generation of Mayan women coming of age. We have no doubt that these girls will be successful, not only in creating better lives for themselves and their families, but in bringing prosperity to their communities and participating actively in making their country a more inclusive and equitable place.