Joselyn and Jáckelyn (back middle & back right) visit Hacienda María, one of CoEd’s Computer Program schools alongside singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno (back left). San José Poaquil, February 2023.

Twins. Imagine the shock of hearing this as an expectant parent! Unfortunately, in rural Guatemala—where families subsist on less than $4 a day—double the blessing can also mean twice the hardship. And so as soon as they were born, Joselyn and Jáckelyn were already facing a difficult life, especially since arriving less than a year after their brother was born.

The three siblings grew up attending school together until their brother dropped out midway through seventh grade. The sisters, however, wanted to stay. And luckily, their father supported them.

For so many girls in Guatemala, this isn’t the case.

Often, girls are the first to be pulled out of school, while their families prioritize educating the boys. “Many times in Guatemala, education denies more to girls—because of machismo [patriarchal culture],” Joselyn observes.

But keeping both twins in school proved to be expensive. After finishing middle school, the sisters had no hope of affording high school. Instead, their mother taught them in a variety of tasks—to knit, cut coffee, or work the fields. Sometimes they would help their uncle cut blackberry and other crops, a difficult task.

“Then one night, my uncle came to my house,” Joselyn recalls. “Where he teaches, some people came giving opportunities to continue studying. My uncle thought of us and told us about this opportunity.” Thanks to this tip from their uncle, both girls applied for and entered the Cooperative for Education (CoEd)’s Rise Program! “God does things that one does not imagine,” she adds.

The girls worked hard through the week, going to classes on the weekends. In school, they were learning more than they ever dreamed possible. Before studying at the CoEd Computer Center at their school, they had never even touched a computer. But now, they were gaining vital technology skills. They even had the opportunity to take a Microsoft Office Specialist exam in Excel. Both sisters passed with flying colors—scoring a 960 and a 961 out of 1000 points! (All 16 of their peers who took the exam also passed!)

Jáckelyn and Joselyn entered CoEd’s Rise Program as ninth graders. Through the Rise Program and Computer Program, the twins gained the opportunity to continue their education and learn valuable technology skills. 

After finishing high school, the twins moved to the capital to pursue their dreams. Though they struggled to find work in the pandemic economy, they faced the challenge with determination and gained formal employment, working as cashiers at País and La Torre, the two largest grocery store chains in Guatemala. These jobs would have been unattainable without the technology skills they learned in school! The sisters reflected in a video interview that their lives would have been very different if they had not received the scholarship to finish high school. If they had dropped out and moved to the capital after eighth grade, they would likely be cleaning homes or making tortillas. Instead—thanks to Rise—both sisters would like to be entrepreneurs, and have even thought about pursuing opportunities to study in other countries.

Joselyn and Jáckelyn were born with all the odds stacked against them. No one expected two indigenous girls from a tiny town to finish school—let alone achieve a nearly-perfect score on a Microsoft Office Specialist exam in Excel! But with their own hard work and access to CoEd programs, all of this was possible! We empower rural communities to deliver quality education that transforms their children’s futures. Thanks to these programs, individuals like Joselyn and Jáckelyn, are now living and working independently in the capital, and dreaming of the next big thing.

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