Meet the current Madrina Program students and learn about their accomplishments in the past year, their aspirations for the future, and the daily challenges they face.
Oscar Augusto Salazar Zamora
My name is Oscar Augusto Salazar Zamora. I am 18 years old I live in Santa Lucía Milpas Altas, Sacatepéquez. My parents separated when I was one years old. I stayed with my mother, a brother, a sister and my maternal grandmother, but after living with them for 15 years, an option became available to live with my paternal grandparents so I could study at a high school and work. So I opted to live with them while I attended high school and worked part time.
The Pandemic Problems and Finishing High School
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we three faced many problems and difficulties. I lost my job and for the first 6 months and I could not visit with my mother and my brothers because they live far away and public transport was paralyzed to prevent the spread of the pandemic. We were able to survive only from my grandfather’s work. In very complicated ways we were able to pay for food and other expenses such as electricity, water and basic services that we had to pay the municipality out of obligation.
My grandmother works at home doing chores for other families such as cleaning, washing and ironing. These families help by giving her food. The work is irregular and poorly paid since no family can pay much; we all are living in the same precarious situation.
One of my goals of 2020 was to finish the business administration major at high school and get my diploma. Since the classes did not continue in the usual way, we were doing our tasks via WhatsApp on our family phone with photos and videos. We received classes by Zoom and sometimes I had problems with the internet because I didn’t always have money to buy internet cards, or go to an internet café because it was closed. One of the options was my neighbor. She kindly allowed me to access her own internet (wi-fi) and so on I managed to handle better my schoolwork.
Another of the even bigger challenges was not having a computer. Not having a computer greatly complicated the performance of my schoolwork. Sometimes teachers would ask me to do work on a computer only there was no other option, so I had to look and ask close friends who would lend their computer to do the homework. With a lot of sacrifice a friend would access and lend me his computer but only at night. With the exams which occurred every two months, we had to write them by hand and have a guardian or a parent bring them to the high school. The teachers gave us a week of time.
The courses that we took this year in high school were marketing, administration, psychology, accounting, mathematics, English, computers, reading, administrative law, commercial and labor law. But like I said these were courses we received by phone on Whatsupp and zoom. I learned a lot receiving a 73 overall grade point average, while also working most of the time.
When we were in high school we formed a company, Ecomaya, with the help of Rotary, making innovating eco-friendly products such as reusable sanitary napkins, activated carbon soap, candles and table napkins. Before the pandemic the company was located in a room at the institute where we studied. We studied in the morning and worked in the afternoons. The job I had was advertising. I learned to create logos, and advertisements for the product, as well as, do payroll, accounting and marketing.
Looking Forward to University Studies
I now have a part time job. I need to buy a new phone that allows me to do some tasks as a computer which I will need for college. I know the phone is not the same as a computer, but it would be an option to allow me to continue studying. I want to enter this month and study at the university, make good grades so I can earn a scholarship. I will make the most of this opportunity and will not disappoint. I want my grandparents to see that I have been able to overcome poverty, that with effort I will achieve what they and even my mother, were not able to do. My grandmother I live with is a hard worker and she has supported me at all times, I am grateful to have her. She is like a mother.
At the university I want to study Business Administration. Professionals in this area are needed to support local communities with the hope of moving Guatemala forward in the worldwide economy. The positions that I could have in a company with a business administration degree are: invoice clerk, payroll clerk, marketing clerk, administrative analyst, or administrative assistant. Eventually I would like to work at The Coca-Cola Company as head of administration since it is a prestigious company and I have knowledge of its history. These are my dreams and goals in the short and long term.
Also I will not give up on fulfilling dreams to give financial support to my mother and brothers so that they too can improve themselves. I also want to have a motorcycle or car, a nice house when I am 26 years old, travel with my family and visit many countries such as Brazil, the United States, France.
María Victoria Del Cielo Reyes Hernández
My name is María Victoria Del Cielo Reyes Hernández. I am 19 years old and I currently live near Antigua, Guatemala, in the municipality of Santa Lucía Milpas Altas. My family is made up of 8 people: my parents, 2 brothers, 1 sister, my grandfather, my uncle and me.
Difficulties Because of the Pandemic
One of the challenges that I faced during the pandemic was to cope with the new way of having classes online. It was something totally new for me and all of us in Guatemala since we were used to face-to-face classes and I personally do not have internet service or a computer.
It was so difficult and complicated, looking for who would lend me a computer and of course having the internet all the time to receive news of homework, classes, information, etc. on my family cell phone. Besides internet problems with schoolwork, I had to reuse school materials to do my homework and thus save on the purchase of paper for homework.
At the beginning of the pandemic, a difficulty that my family encountered was the ability to get to go to work since all buses were suspended for fear of contagion. Almost all companies closed down. Due to the increase in unemployment in Guatemala, my mother lost her job and the only fixed income we had was that of my father, which caused us economic problems and reduced our spending on food and services such as electricity, gas, and purchasing of diapers.
Many markets inflated the prices for basic food so sometimes we did not eat three times a day. My grandfather decided to plant various kinds of vegetables for our consumption: radishes, lettuce, onion, corn, carrot, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. We also sold and consuming avocados. But this brought additional challenges such as paying for water for irrigation and selling our produce at low prices because the neighbors did not have enough money either!
One of the goals we had for this year was to start a family business but due to Covid-19 and the economic repercussions that the pandemic caused, it was not possible.
School During the Pandemic
The goal that I achieved despite the tough challenges was to graduate with high honors, GPA 93, from my high school business administration program. The subjects I studied are: Administration III, Marketing III, Cost Accounting, Administrative Legislation, Commercial and Labor Law, Supervised Practice, Values, Reading, Spelling / Calligraphy, English, Computing, and Mathematics.
I achieved this by working with discipline, responsibility, dedication, commitment, giving school my best. And I had the support of my family. I did not give up because, with a high school degree, I could go on to college. Then I could have better employment opportunities and at some point, start my own business, help my family financially and encourage my brothers so that keep studying. I wanted my family to feel proud of me. I appreciated how little or how much I have, because no matter what difficult or the obstacles that arise in the course of our lives, nothing is impossible if one works hard and always gives the best effort without giving up. My mother, although she did not have the opportunity to study, always supports me and gives me words of encouragement.
I want to make changes and have a better quality of life. One of my biggest dreams at present is to pursue university studies in order to personally and intellectually improve, and in the meanwhile learn English.
We business administration students began a business, Ecomaya at school, with the help of a Rotary Grant. in 2019 We started out making reusable menstrual pads, then artisan soaps. In the sales area we had to find a market where our product would fit in order to have a profit. We made a small profit but then Covid19 closed down all market opportunities in Guatemala.
University Aspirations and Beyond
I want to study Business Administration at college because I believe that with this program you can develop skills to make strategic, tactical or operational decisions in a company. I might even start a business of my own. Administration has a preparation for a wide number of activities that one can perform with high effectiveness. It is a career with preparation in the economic as well as in the social sector.
The study of Business Administration has many benefits, such as learning many skills for work in the community, private business or government. My community needs business professionals to advance its economic level. A business administrator can serve in a company as a manager of human resources, accounting, operations, marketing, finance, accounting, budget, purchasing, business, or management. One option I have researched is working at the Cervecería Centroamericana de Guatemala, in human resources.
I characterize myself for being a responsible person in everything I do in my personal life, as well as professionally. I’m sure that becoming a professional will allow me to help my family as well as younger people in the community to develop dreams and abilities like I have now.
Nallely Maribel Ubeda Ortiz
My name is Nallely Maribel Ubeda Ortiz, I am nineteen years old and currently live in Santa Lucía Milpas Altas in the department of Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. Four people live at home, my father, mother brother and myself.
The Pandemic Problems – Family and School
The covid-19 pandemic affected several aspects in our family since the beginning of the year. My father was fired from his job, when the pandemic began and it was much more difficult to find another job because work activities were suspended by order of the Guatemalan government, in order not to spread the virus.
Until today my father has not been able to find a job with a fixed salary. He works now as a day laborer; meaning he works very seldom. My mother is a seamstress, but in the same way there was not much work for her. Not having much work means not having much money which means shortages of food and basic needs for the family.
Regarding my studies, I don’t have a computer, so I worked on our family cell phone using WhatsApp or rented a computer in an internet cafe. I had difficulties because I did not have a fixed internet at home. School demanded me to have permanent internet at home, for Zoom, for virtual meetings, receiving tasks, carrying out the tasks and sending them. This was difficult with just a cell phone and WhatsApp. At the internet café, the internet cards that they sell only supply one hour and I needed more than one hour for research in my many classes. For everything, I had to buy internet with more megabytes at a higher cost, so it affected our family finances, Happy to report that my brother and I finished our studies with good grades despite the various difficulties we had.
My biggest motivation for doing well in school was knowing the effort that my parents made and continue to make to support my brother and me in one way or another to conclude our high school studies. I also feel inspired to continue my studies because I want to change my generation. My parents did not have access to study, so being at a university is a dream that they wish for we children. What satisfaction I have as a daughter knowing my patents are proud.
I am completing my high school diploma in business administration. I am sure that I can make the most of the opportunity to continue studying at a university. I have dreamed so often of having the opportunity to be in a college class, sitting next to other students with similar dreams of obtaining a university degree and being professionals, transforming Guatemala.
Throughout my education I have dedicated myself to get good grades making the most of what I learned every day, My grade point average is 88. This year I took courses in mathematics, accounting, management, marketing, economics, research techniques, psychology, government organization, commercial law, reading, computing, spelling and statistics.
2020 Learning a Business
During the pandemic I learned to value my family and friends more, reflect on how we must help each other so that we can get ahead together. I have also learned that it is good to have different skills to survive in some way or another economically. At school Rotary helped some of us develop a small company called Ecomaya, dedicated to the production of 100% handmade and eco-friendly products. We made a soap made with activated carbon, volcanic ash and glycerin. It has a significant shape of a pyramid recognized in Guatemala as Tikal, being one of the places with the greatest attraction for tourists. The packaging included a bag made with typical fabric. We decided not to use plastic as that is not good for the environment.
Like any business that starts, we had difficulties when it comes to selling, because people tend to have a bit of distrust for our product not being a recognized brand and more so when it is a product that will be applied to the skin, but thanks to the classes we received we were able to learn marketing strategies. We choose to advertise on popular social networks in Guatemala, we consider that it was one of the most feasible ways to publicize our product. We learned accounting as a fundamental way to keep track of the profits or losses for the company and the at the same time we broke up in groups to find solutions. We also made other products, such as table napkins and candles, but then the Pandemic hit, and we had no tourists to sell to.
Being part of Ecomaya was a significant experience. I learned a lot about what it is like to run a company and make it work. It was my first job, I got a lot of responsibility, which for me is very valuable.
These last two months with the help of my mother and her sewing machine myself and Reyna, another student, have continued Ecomaya, selling products to the US, since we have no tourists here. We have made masks and headbands and soon are to make ponchos. The money we have earned will help us with college expenses.
I have dreams of receiving a Bachelor of Business Administration, working hard to create my own small business which would provide work for people in my community who, due to lack of academic studies, do not get jobs in most large companies. I long to help my parents because they do not have steady work. If I can help people who need it, I will do it.
I would like to manage social programs that facilitate community help based on food, health and education, resulting in well-rounded self-sufficient families.
Maybe I will work in a large company. The Business Administration career prepares me for positions in a company, such as marketing manager, finance manager, human resource clerk or manager, and account manager., I would like to work at the Bimbo company because it is a recognized international company. I would like to have the position of administrator of finance, although I would also like to be a manager in marketing.
What are some aspects about me that make me different from others? I am a responsible person; I always do my best to not fail in my obligations. When I am passionate about something, I give it all until I achieve what I want. I don’t give up easily. One of the things that I have been able to understand is that for everything there are solutions so, if you want, with effort, dedication and positivism you can find a solution to problems.
REYNA EUGENIA GARABITO PINEDA
My name is Reyna Eugenia Garabito Pineda. I am 18 years old, and live in the village of Santo Tomás Milpas Altas, municipality of Santa Lucía Milpas Altas, department of Sacatepéquez. My family consists of my parents, my 3 sisters and 1 brother.
2020 Pandemic Challenges and Accomplishments
The main challenges and difficulties we have in this pandemic as a family is the lack of money for our family’s basic needs. My father was the main supporter but can not work due to health conditions and my mother has to spend most of her time taking care of him. My two older sisters work to support the necessary expenses.
Surviving this pandemic is not easy as it requires a lot of courage to face the conditions that are experienced day by day. We have survived in various ways, for example, my mother goes to another house every Wednesday to make food and sell it. My brother and I help the family income by making crafts, recycling items and selling them.
Besides the multiple obstacles, such as not enough money for food and medicine for my father, we have a lack of internet access for me and my brother to do our school tasks online. The demand for having internet every day and using more electricity has grown as we do school tasks on our cell phone using WhatsApp, Word, and Excel and Zoom. The Internet is not always available in Guatemala, depending on the weather and demand. Receiving lessons and sending homework is not easy. Sometimes we had friends who had a computer and found out about the tasks, exercises and activities I needed to perform
Another challenge was the lack of materials (books, papers, pens) to carry out different activities for school, but nevertheless I persevered.
The goals I had in mind for 2020 were: study English in the municipal women’s office, learn to play marimba, take a math course, find a job where I could work on weekends to contribute money at home, take a swimming course.
Due to the pandemic, I could not fulfill some of them. However, I did learn to swim and to play the guitar. I have also learned a little English, looking for topics of interest to me on the internet.. We also had English classes online with one of Maureen’s friends, Yoana, from San Diego.
Completing a High School Degree and Starting a Business in 2020
I am very proud of completing my high school diploma in Business Administration in 2020. It required a lot of effort and constant dedication in each of my classes. I set personal goals fulfilling the dreams of my parents for me to succeed. I finished my senior year first in my class with the highest grade in Business Administration: 94%. The courses were all online:
- Cost Accounting
- Administrative Legislation
- Administration III
- Commercial and Labor Law
- Marketing III
- Seminar on Administration Problems
- Supervised Practice
- Reading, Spelling, English, Computing and Mathematics.
Shortly before the pandemic, with the help of a Rotary Grant, we business administration students formed a company ECOMAYA and sold products which were eco-friendly. We made a soap of activated carbon and volcanic ash. We actually were making a profit selling the soap to tourists until the pandemic hit in March 2020 and tourists stopped coming.
Throughout the formation of this micro company, I was the General Manager. This position helped me learn many things, such as preparing the company’s accounting, keeping track of sales orders, developing effective advertising and marketing, and directing and motivating personnel. In addition, I learned the abilities of each one of my colleagues, helping them to develop their skill sets. All this knowledge helped me to train as a leader and at the same time gain experience for future endeavors.
During the past two months in 2020 I started up our business ECOMAYA again, making face masks and headbands from native Guatemalan fabric on a sewing machine with a colleague using her mother’s sewing machine. Since there still is not opportunity to sell these products in Guatemala (few people have jobs and money) we are selling them in the US through Maureen. We are excited to be making money for college expenses.
2021 Aspirations and Beyond
My dream for 2021 is to start studying engineering at a local university, either Systems Engineering or Industrial Engineering because I am passionate about the world of technology and I like to design new things.
The Systems Engineering career is very important in the business field, since every company needs to develop new technologies, as well as implement and improve its information systems.
The industrial engineer finds ways to prevent waste and inefficiency in production processes. He/she designs efficient systems that integrate workers, information, machines, energy and materials to make products or provide services.
The role of engineers is of great value today and will continue to be so in the future. Guatemala needs more engineers, especially female engineers, to help it keep up with the 21st century demands.
Along with school studies this coming year, my plans are to work with Felipe Razo, part of Maureen’s Rotary group who came to our school and introduced us basic electronics. He will work with me online and help me with my engineering classes. I also hope to keep up the business of making products from native Guatemalan fabric to help pay for part of my education.
In the future I plan to finish a university degree, to master the English language, to become independent, travel and also support my family. I want to help my community in Guatemala, especially young girls who need motivation and finances to keep going in school and aspire for college, like I am doing. The opportunity that I will have to study engineering will mean amazing advancement for the people around me.