As we celebrate the focus on girls education thanks to Malala Day, Girl Rising, and other amazing efforts to educate girls around the world, we wanted to bring you the story of Cindy Marroquin, a girl excited about her education in Guatemala.
“I need three volunteers,” said Mario Yac, manager of Cooperative for Education (CoEd)’s Textbook Program. Quickly, three adolescent boys bounded over to him, prepared for whatever might come next… or so they thought.
It was the inauguration of CoEd’s Textbook Program at Agua Viva School in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Mario had just ﬁnished telling the students how the program would work and wanted to see if they had been paying attention. He asked the boys to recite the three main points of his presentation. Stage fright set in, and none of them was able to respond correctly.
They sat down, and two more boys took the stage. This time, they were joined by a girl—Cindy Marroquín. Cindy was beautiful and poised as she waited patiently, her braids falling neatly on her hand-woven Mayan blouse. The ﬁrst boy was able to remember just one of the three points. The next boy didn’t remember any of them.
Then it was Cindy’s turn. She quietly but conﬁdently stepped up to the microphone and recited all three points without breaking a sweat: take care of the books, contribute the rental fee, and return the books at the end of the year. Everyone cheered—including Cindy, who threw her arms into the air in celebration.
She inspired the spectators not just because she knew the answers, but because her self-assuredness was undeniable. Cindy wants to be a bilingual doctor, which isn’t a surprising dream for someone so intelligent and driven. However, her determination to reach her goals doesn’t mean it will be an easy road. She struggles every day to balance her studies with her many responsibilities at home.
Neither of her parents can read, so their employment options are limited. Her father is a migrant farmer and her mother works as a maid in Guatemala City, only coming home on Sundays. This leaves Cindy to act as a mother to her two younger brothers, ages six and ten. While her parents are at work, Cindy is in charge of everything—making the tortillas, ﬁxing the meals, keeping the house clean, and caring for her younger siblings. And she does it all while keeping up in school and never wavering from her goals.
As Cindy told her story, she never complained or seemed bitter. She simply said, “I’m glad I can make my parents proud.” She went on to say that what makes them proudest is her desire to continue her education. “That is why they work so hard,” she says. “To make sure that my brothers and I have a chance at a better life.”
Now that Cindy’s school has textbooks, she is one step closer to achieving her dreams and the dreams of her parents. “I am most excited about the science book,” she said. “Now I can learn more about the human body and see pictures of how the systems work.”
As the CoEd tour participants walked away after the inauguration ceremony, Cindy ran up and said in her best English, “Thank you very much for coming here. Thank you very much for helping me.” She again smiled conﬁdently, and the look in her eyes said, ‘Nothing will stop me.’
And thanks to your help, nothing ever will.