In Guatemala, like many undeveloped countries, women are often held back despite their desire to learn. As girls, they can be kept out of schools because there is only enough money to send one child to school and boys are given preference. Then, as young women, they may drop of out of school due to pressures such as becoming mothers before they are ready, being kept at home to help with siblings, housework, and sick parents, and sometimes experiencing verbal and physical abuse at home.

An investment in women means the primary influence, and often the most consistently present adult in a home, has an education and shares the benefits of that with her family.

Two Young Women Make the Leap to a Higher Education

josefa_webJosefa’s story Like many dump children, 18 year old Josefa’s family did not have the money to pay for school tuition. It was through a Paso a Paso scholarship that she was able to continue studying after elementary school. Her family has endured losing a beloved grandmother, who was also contributing to their household income; having their father walk out on them and leave them with no income; and a brother dropping out of school to earn money at the dump. Josefa is also constantly mocked by her uncles for her desire to study.
Josefa learned at Paso a Paso that education is the way out of poverty and and clings to it as her motivation. She is now in her last year of studies with the hope to continue at a university so she can become an auditor with IS. She keeps busy by volunteering in the accounting department with IS and well as doing an internship at the audit firm Barrera and Rivera.
brenda_bwebBrenda’s story Brenda is 17 years old and is studying to be a bilingual secretary. She has surpassed her own expectations by not dropping out of school and now hopes to attend college to study psychology. Although she is a good student, her path was not an easy one.
An older stepbrother has long pressured her because of his envy and jealousy that she will surpass him. Her stepfather perpetuates the problem by spoiling his son, and abusing his wife and the other children in the family. Brenda’s escape is the positive environment she has in class and while volunteering at Paso a Paso as well as interning with Turitran, the company International Samaritan uses to support volunteers in Guatemala and El Salvador, as a bilingual secretary. She also regularily practices her English with the volunteers.
International Samaritan believes that both male and female students can succeed and thus gives them equal opportunity through its education programs. According to the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index, only 49% of Guatemalan women participate in the labor force as opposed to 88.3% of men. Beyond educating young women without any discrimination, International Samaritan shares opportunity for work training in the form of internships, so that they may be as qualified as any other person competing for a job.
Get involved > You can be a part of supporting young women like Brenda and Josefa by funding a full or partial scholarship for one year in our Paso a Paso program. Education and empowering young women is critical to change society’s attitude and shape the mothers of future generations.
Visit us online at and make your donation today.