Zunil is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains outside of Quetzaltenango.

In many ways, the extremely rural and achingly poor community of Zunil is no different from the scores of other poverty-stricken places across the globe—the people are hardworking, diligent, and utterly stuck in poverty. But this community is different; they have a spark, a hunger to improve their lives. Given their proximity to the nearby school, Colegio Noj, most families recognize the importance of education and are exerting a tremendous effort to send their children to school, often making serious sacrifices in the process.

Girls awaiting new textbooks

Classmates at Colegio Noj wait in anticipation of receiving textbooks to use at their school for the very first time.

Roberto Ixcot’s family is no exception. Roberto, age 15, is in his first year of middle school, and walks 30 minutes to class each day. His parents never attended school, but are adamant that Roberto receive a quality education. When asked why his education is so important, his mother states in her native Mayan language, Quiché, “My husband and I can’t read, write, or talk in Spanish. I never leave home without Roberto because he needs to read signs and translate for me. We cannot read checks, go to doctor’s appointments, or leave our community by ourselves. Look at me now. I can’t even talk directly to you [without a translator].”

Roberto and his mom

Roberto Ixcot and his mother are thrilled that he is now able to study with textbooks, thanks to your generosity.

Tears welling in her eyes, Roberto’s mother continues, “We want to give our kids a better life than the one we had. We don’t want them to feel ashamed of themselves or like there is any limitation to achieve what they want. I know they want to study and leave this community. They don’t want to work on this land for the rest of their lives like their parents.”

The Ixcot family rents their farmland; the harvest is rarely enough to cover all of their expenses. As a result, they routinely struggle to cobble together the monthly fees for Roberto’s education. Yet they are staunch in their resolve to give the very best opportunities to their two children, often foregoing meat at meals to save money.

Roberto does not take their sacrifices for granted. Hoping to one day become a doctor, he states, “I am grateful that my parents allow me to come to school. I hate it that they can’t read or write. It is frustrating for me to see them humiliated or taken advantage of by others.” This frustration fuels his desire to succeed. Waking up at 6 a.m. to complete chores and homework, Roberto then goes to work in the fields with his father until it is time to leave for school. With no electricity or water at home, Roberto has limited lighting to study after school and has to spend time each day carrying water home from the public well. “It’s hard when you have to invest time working to cover basic needs,” he acknowledges.

washing laundry

Basic needs are a real obstacle to education for students like Roberto.

Now that Roberto has access to textbooks for the very first time in his life, he is able to study more efficiently and take full advantage of his educational opportunities. The textbooks are also helping him gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter, setting him up for long-term success. There are no limits to what he will be able to accomplish with a quality education, and, thanks to your support, Roberto is well on his way to achieving his dreams. And as for his mother’s dreams for him? “I dream of seeing Roberto graduate because I know that with a degree, he will finally have a better future, and life, than the one we had.” With such a strong, supportive, and loving family—and the improved quality of education provided by CoEd’s Textbook Program—Roberto’s dreams are truly without limitations.

What will you sacrifice so students like Roberto can have a better education?