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You are a 13 year old Mayan girl. You have spent your whole life being told that your opinion is not important, that your concerns are not valid. After all, you are poor, Mayan, rural, a girl. Your voice has never been heard.

Starfish will help you become a girl pioneer. You will reach unprecedented academic heights. You will know and use information and systems to positively transform your family and community. You will tackle paradigms that have never been challenged. But to do so, you will need your unique voice. It is there inside you, but you must learn how to use it.

Give Her a Voice is a project to build strong foundations so that all Starfish students are able to clearly articulate their strengths, their needs, their futures. Starfish One by One needs your help to conduct two trainings, one on voice and the other on resiliency. Starfish staff will use these tools to make sure all Starfish students, starting in 7th grade, are able to use their voice and their unique talents and skills.

Give Her a Voice – Givology is part of a larger $40,000 project enlisting the support of the Starfish community. Your donation starts the wave to move this important effort forward.


Voice: In 2013, Dr. Beth Osnes, professor at the University of Colorado, will be training Starfish staff and girl pioneers in vocal empowerment. They will learn how to use vocal techiques, body language, and a positive learning environment to create solutions to break the glass ceilings in their own lives. A special Starfish advisor will be creating a training video to help Starfish ripple this training to other NGOs in Guatemala, so that young women everywhere can benefit from these innovative techniques.

Resiliency: Starfish staff will also receive a one week training in student resiliency from the Trauma Resource Institute. Starfish will learn how to teach girl pioneers, many of whom have grown up in traumatic, stressful life circumstances, to bounce back from these experiences. Girl pioneers will focus on overcoming defensive responses to positively develop their resilience.


Starfish girl pioneers are the first generation to shatter the glass ceiling in their communities, but they cannot do it without using their voice. 105 Starfish girl pioneers will be affected directly in 2013. After 2013, all new girl pioneers will receive the same training. Starfish will also ripple the voice and resiliency trainings to organizations working with young women throughout Guatemala. Your support starts the RIPPLE.

Team Credentials

For over five years, Starfish has worked to make education and empowerment possible for rural, Mayan girls. The secret to success is the Starfish team: indigenous Mayan women who themselves have walked the path to education and are perfectly position to help a whole generation do the same.
While only 1 in 10,000 (less than 1% of) rural, Mayan women have ever accessed the university, 65% of Starfish graduates are currently enrolled in university. 15 more Starfish girl pioneers will graduate from high school this fall.
Starfish seeks the expertise of strong local and international nonprofit organizations, like Save the Children and WINGS Guatemala, in order to deliver quality empowerment skills like financial literacy, leadership, and reproductive health. Starfish through Give Her a Voice is enlisting Dr. Beth Osnes, an expert on using theatrical technique in the developing world to promote positive learning, peer support, and active voice, and the Trauma Resource Institute, a national leader in trauma resiliency and positive growth.


  • October 2015 Update

    "Soy perseverante. Levanto mi voz." (I am perseverant. I raise my voice.) - Vocal Empowerment Training Song Through the Give Her A Voice program, Starfish aims to prepare our staff and students to use their empowered voices in a wide variety of settings. In June 2015, we welcomed Dr. Beth Osnes, and Chelsea Hackett, PhD candidate, to facilitate a five-day vocal empowerment training for our staff at our main office in Panajachel, Guatemala. Through a variety of theatre exercises and facilitated conversations, Starfish mentors practiced skills such as understanding and managing emotions, effective facilitation, and public speaking-all with the aim of teaching these skills to Starfish Girl Pioneers. For five years, Beth and Chelsea have been working with Starfish to ensure that our Girl Pioneers have the necessary tools to exercise their empowered voices. Through a curriculum that is taught during Starfish's weekly mentoring sessions, Girl Pioneers use a variety of songs ...


  • Janice Sprow Louisville, Kentucky, USA
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