“I left school in the 6th grade. When I was young I fought with my father a lot and he didn’t take care of us. We were 16 siblings in all and we sort of raised ourselves. Ten of us are still alive. I have three sons and two daughters but they don’t take care of me. I am just trying to survive.” – Maria Lopez Pega is a street vendor in Havana, Cuba and sells candy and chicharrones.
“When I was a teenager and studying to become a teacher I got pregnant and dropped out of school. At the time I thought my work and the rest of my life would be in the house and in the kitchen. But after participating in some community women’s groups and raising three children with my husband, I decided to become a health promoter so I could earn my own money and go back to school. I earned Q300 which was enough to pay for my school materials and my uniform. I only had one uniform for all three years I was in school. I had to borrow money from my family so that I could buy the clothing I needed for my graduation. But I kept pushing myself toward my goals. It was hard but I just kept going. While raising 5 children, I became a teacher and now I am the Director of the School.” – Dominga Lukas Castro is an educator and business owner in Huitan, Guatemala. She also gives literacy classes to her mother-in-law (yesterday’s EVE) and older women in her community.
note: This project is dedicated to Dominga and you can read a longer version of her story on meandeve.com. It is the very first story published.
“As a child I only attended school for two years. Back then the thought was, “Why send a girl to school when she only is going to wind up in the kitchen?” When I was 25 years old the Catholic Nuns came to my village and taught me the value of being a woman. The priest told us that men and women are equal. He said the only ones who say women aren’t equal to men are men. The priest built the Colegio Asuncion here in Huitan so that the indigenous people here (the Mams) would be educated. All of my 10 children attended that school and 9 of them went on to become teachers. Now, I go to school every afternoon. My daughter-in-law, who is the director of the elementary school here, teaches a class for older women like me who didn’t have the opportunity to go to school when we were young.” – Dona Juana Diaz Velasquez lives in El Plan, Huitan, Guatemala and has been a community leader for many decades.