The pain was unbearable. Sitting still for more than a few minutes was an exercise in intense concentration, but Reyna Por Rodriguez had no other choice. She tried to block out the pain, instead focusing on the teacher’s soft voice at the front of the room and the feel of the crisp paper in between her fingertips. She pictured her sponsors in the United States, and the family counting on her at home. Determined to take full advantage of her Cooperative for Education (CoEd) scholarship, she vowed to stay in school, no matter what.
Reyna reflects on that painful time in her life, when a bad accident left her unable to sit for extended periods of time. She recounts the struggle of encouraging her younger brother with disabilities to stay in school, saying, with tears in her eyes, “My own experience serves as an example to him to keep going, even when times are tough.”
Reyna is not only an example for her younger brother, but for all nine of her siblings. Her single mother never had the chance to attend school, and is illiterate. Without the means to afford tuition, four of Reyna’s older siblings had to drop out of school, further miring their family in poverty.
Then Reyna was accepted into CoEd’s Scholarship & Youth Development Program, and everything changed. Despite the obstacles in her path, she excelled in school and graduated in 2012 with a degree in accounting. She says, “This scholarship was so important to me, because I wouldn’t have been able to go to school without it.” Reyna now works at a supermarket chain in the mornings as a cashier—a well-paid position that she never would have obtained without her degree—and takes marketing classes at the local university in the afternoons. She is able to contribute money for household expenses, pay for her younger siblings’ school costs, help them with homework and, most importantly, encourage them to stay in school so that they can follow their dreams as she is doing.
Reyna’s family is not an anomaly. 92% of CoEd scholarship graduates with younger siblings have influenced their siblings to stay in school. 50% of those graduates are also able to help finance their siblings’ studies. The ripple effects of the Scholarship & Youth Development Program are obvious. Sponsoring one student often goes so much further than that, influencing the student’s siblings, parents, and communities. Reyna has completely changed the trajectory of her entire family, thanks to generous donors like YOU.
“Thanks to CoEd, I am not only able to help my family, but I was also taught how to contribute to my community,” Reyna continues. She learned about the importance of giving back by undertaking community service projects as part of the youth development component of CoEd’s program. To her sponsors, Reyna says, “Thank you so much for the support you gave me. Although I couldn’t meet you in person, you were always on my mind and in my heart.”
If sponsoring one student has already accomplished so much, imagine what the ripple effects of your generosity will continue to do in the following years—impacting families, communities, and the entire country of Guatemala for generations to come.