This Mother’s Day, we want to thank the women who are building better futures for their families and their communities. At WJI, we’re fortunate to have incredible women on our team like Adolescent Girls Program Program Leader Sandra Cocón.

Sandra is the oldest of 9 siblings and as a girl, had to leave school at 12:

“my father only believed in educating his sons, but I loved school so much. After he took me out of school, I studied on my own – rereading my old textbooks and redoing homework assignments. When I was 16, my father had a change of heart. He saw how dedicated I was to receiving an education and instead of marriage, he let me go back to school.”

“I wanted to be a doctor, but couldn’t afford the tuition. I hope one day my daughter will want to pursue medicine and if she doesn’t, that’s ok. I’ll encourage her to decide what she wants in life. I want her to travel, to be independent, and take advantage of the opportunities I didn’t have.”

Sandra, second from left, is an inspiring woman who is working to provide a better future for her daughter and the girls we work with:

“I want the girls to know they can count on me. This is more than a job, it’s part of me. It’s wonderful to see that they aren’t just learning in the workshops. Rather they’re applying these lessons in their lives. It’s about making their own decisions and pursuing better opportunities.”

“One of the girls I work with is 15 and just starting elementary school. When she was 6, she escaped an abusive home and managed to find her grandmother in a neighboring community. She’s had an incredibly difficult life at such a young age and when she first started the workshops at the encouragement of her grandmother, naturally she was distant and not interested.”

“But we’ve seen such an immense change in her. She is happy and wants to go to school – which she never had the opportunity to do. It’s difficult being a teenager and even more so when you’re the oldest student in elementary school. But she’s persevering!”

“I want to support her as she keeps studying, to help her find a scholarship so she can go to college and build a better life. And that’s the great thing about working with adolescent girls. We see so much change in them and in the communities. We can transform the future with this generation.”

We’re grateful for women like Sandra this Mother’s Day who empower Mayan girls and women to break the cycle of violence and inequality in rural Guatemala. And on behalf of Sandra and the team, thank you. Our work would not be possible without you.

 


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