The sun is shining brightly over the courtyard of Colegio Mesías in San Marcos, Guatemala. The students, giddy with excitement, prepare to perform a traditional dance in front of the entire school, community, and volunteers from Cooperative for Education. Pine needles and flower petals are strewn about the concrete floor, indicating that this is a very important day. The students’ elation is contagious, affecting all in attendance. Today is important. Today is special. Today, the students are celebrating the fact that their school has saved enough money to buy new books after five years in CoEd’s sustainable Textbook Program.
Fifteen-year-old Jessica Orosco takes her place in front of the crowd, her beaming smile reflecting the joyous colors and patterns of her intricate huipil (traditional dress). She begins speaking, expressing her immense gratitude for the textbooks she has the privilege to use every day. She articulates her excitement at being able to read from a book instead of having to copy down everything the teacher says, and confidently proclaims her hope for a bright future, stating, “God gives us the gift of life and what we do with that life is our gift to God.”
The youngest of 11 children, Jessica has grown up surrounded by positive examples of hard work and dedication.
Neither of her parents studied past first grade, but every single one of her siblings are currently in, or have graduated from, high school—and most of them have gone on to college. This is an incredible feat for a family in rural Guatemala, where the education level of an average adult is a mere 4.1 years.
CoEd’s Textbook Program is helping families like Jessica’s continue studying, with schools demonstrating a 46% decline in dropout rates after joining the program. (more…)