I am grateful to God that I can help our scholars and their families and see their priceless smiles. It makes me proud when they finish their studies and find jobs to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families.
Our scholars overcome many challenges on their way to graduation. IntSam Scholar Jennifer recently earned her high school diploma. Her family could only afford to send their children to school through the sixth grade. As the eldest child, Jennifer cared for her younger siblings while her mother worked.
When Jennifer entered our scholarship program, she distinguished herself as an articulate and sociable young woman. She cried when I told her that International Samaritan would help her to continue her studies. It was a moving and joyful moment. And, because we recognized her value as a person, Jennifer felt extraordinary!
Jennifer wrote in her application, “I am a girl who has many dreams, but, above all, I want a better life for my family. There are seven of us: my four siblings, my grandmother, and my mother.” Jennifer’s mother did not have an opportunity to attend school. She worked hard to support her family, leaving for work each day at 5 a.m. to make tortillas, not going to bed until 11:30 p.m.
At age seven, Jennifer’s dream was to attend school. She told me she saw children going by with their backpacks, but at that time, she was helping her grandmother in the tortilla shop.
My husband and I visited Jennifer. She and her family welcomed me with joy. Her seven-person family rented a room 3×4 meters for $65US, half of the family’s $130 monthly income. I was shocked by the condition of the home: despite the home being so expensive for them, it was chronically infested with mice and insects due to cracks in the walls and most of the utilities didn’t work. What shocked me the most was that Jennifer and her family didn’t even have beds – they instead slept on cardboard and leaf pallets on the floor. I bought a bunk bed for her and her young brothers and so at least the children could sleep in a real bed at night.
Over five months, I worked to help improve their quality of life so Jennifer could study. I hired Jennifer’s mother to care for my parents and paid her a small wage. We found a new apartment for them with help from the Association of Ladies of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul.
Now that she has graduated, Jennifer’s new goal is to find a job to improve her mother’s economic situation and to support her brothers. Jennifer is taking supplemental technical courses on the weekends so that it won’t affect her ability to apply for other jobs. She also is taking an employment and entrepreneurship workshop with World Vision based at IntSam’s computer center. She is busy!
Without funding from International Samaritan and the trust our supporters place in our young scholars despite their complex life challenges, these amazing life changes could not have occurred. Yet still more incredible is the action of God through the people who donate and help make the dreams of our Guatemalan scholars, like Jennifer, come true! Muchas gracias!

A message from Jennifer, taken at her graduation!

Angelica Cancinos, Director (Guatemala)

Angelica has a bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy and is finishing her thesis for a master’s degree in Theology. She started our Paso a Paso scholarship program in 2008, which has since been replicated across four countries. Angelica is a grateful daughter, a loving wife, a devoted friend, and a lover of books and nature.

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