Milsa Marleny Sajvin Ajpuz-Homiguitas's Blog

An Update from Milsa!

Below is an update for Milsa, a student we are sponsoring through [url=]Starfish[/url]. Starfish is our partner who works in Guatemala to empower women to make changes in their community. We are very proud of the accomplishments Milsa has achieved!

"As Milsa Savjin Ajpus finished up her sixth grade year she had a life changing decision to make. At 14 years old, Milsa had to choose between continuing her education and working at her mother, Magdelena's "huipil" weaving shop. The reality? Milsa's family did not have the economic resources to support further schooling. Her father had developed a drinking problem and struggled to find consistent work; the little money he did generate went towards feeding his five children and financing her older brother's art degree. While Milsa's brother had hope of securing a decent salary someday, her chances--as an impoverished, rural, indigenous girl--of actually earning a university degree and professional job, were close to none.
Luckily for Milsa, Starfish's current "In Country Director," Norma Bajan, knew her mother from "Friendship Bridge," a micro lending non-profit where Norma was previously employed and from which Magdalena had received a loan. Norma suggested that Milsa's family explore the Starfish program, a Starfish staff member interviewed Milsa, and that was that. Against all odds, Milsa was to continue her education.

When I met Milsa in the Panjachel office on Monday, I was immediately struck by her poised demeanor and the respectfulness with which she introduced herself. As our interview progressed and I heard her story, I grew more and more impressed with the girl sitting in front of me. She considered each of my questions with genuine thoughtfulness, and spoke with gentle confidence. Once we began discussing her school life she lit up with enthusiasm, and I found it increasingly difficult to believe that Milsa had nearly abandoned her studies three years before.

Milsa is currently in her las year of "Basico" schooling (middle school, to us gringos) and plans to graduate in June. In September, she will enter "Diversificado" (High School) and begin taking courses geared towards her university degree. Milsa dreams of becoming a tour guide, because she loves "sharing cultures with other people." It is not surprising, therefore, that her favorite classes are English, History, and Natural Sciences. When asked why she enjoys English, Milsa explained that she began the subject in primary school, but all she did there was "memorize words, words, and more words." However, her current class focuses on conversational skills, which come in handy when Milsa is helping out at her mother's textile stall and needs to communicate with foreign shoppers. "My mom, who barely even speaks Spanish, is very proud of me in those moments," she beams.

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