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.
The positive examples set by Jessica’s siblings inspire her to work hard each and every day. Her mother, Romelia, sells vegetables at the nearby bus terminal every morning starting at 1:00 a.m. Jessica helps her on the weekends, knowing that this sacrifice is what provides for her education. Romelia believes strongly in sending her children to school, and is an ardent supporter of CoEd’s Textbook Program, saying, “The textbooks allow Jessica to perform better in school and to be better prepared.” She gladly pays the small book rental fees each year, knowing that this is what makes the program sustainable and has allowed her children to study with books.
Animatedly browsing the pages of her new social studies textbook, Jessica discusses her passion for the subject. She loves learning about politics, anthropology, and history, particularly that of her Mayan ancestors. Jessica encourages her classmates to take pride in their culture and learn as much about it as possible, proclaiming “It is only through learning about what happened to our ancestors that we can avoid suffering like they have.” While Jessica loves history, her ultimate goal is to become a doctor to help special needs children and those who suffer from malnutrition.
Looking at Jessica with an incredible amount of love and pride, Romelia begins to choke up as she smiles and says, “My dream is that all of my children will graduate from college someday.” Thanks to Jessica’s supportive family—and CoEd’s Textbook Program—this dream is now more achievable than ever. Jessica is confident that she will reach her goals, and thanks to YOUR support, her future has never looked brighter.