When Josefa was young, her father abandoned their family. Her mother, Dominga Baltazar, was left to care for five children. As civil war surrounded her rural home in the 1980s, Dominga found no option but to move her family to the Guatemala City garbage dump.
While most American teenagers grow up with schools, libraries, and playgrounds nearby, Josefa is constantly aware that she needs to be concerned for her safety. Her mother warns her that as a young woman Josefa is especially vulnerable. “It is very scary, just walking in any street, because many times young girls are victims not just of a robbery, but sometimes they are kidnapped and taken to improvised houses around the dump to be raped.” In turn, Josefa longs to help her mother and her siblings.
Josefa has always loved numbers and math. She thrived at the Francisco Coll School and received help from International Samaritan to attend secondary school. She has always feared becoming an adult in a country full of violence and discrimination against women. By pursuing university studies, she will leave the dangers of the garbage dump and pursue her dreams of becoming a veterinarian.