Manuela, 13

Catarina, 12

Publication info

Posted
2/29/16

Catarina, 12, is an aspiring doctor who lives in Chuacorral Village in the rural western highlands of Santa María Chiquimula with her 7 brothers and sisters, and her mother and father. In addition to attending school, Catarina does domestic work and helps to shepherd sheep to help earn extra money for her family.

She loves to read and write, and even shares what she learns with her father and brothers - who left school to help her family with earning money - when she gets home. Catarina especially likes the self-esteem building component of Qach’umilal, and is learning to value herself more every day.

Catarina’s teachers at Paxan (Elementary) School spoke both about her increased confidence and improved view of herself since she began participating in Qach’umilal, and Catarina’s athletic ability. Although her family often struggles with ensuring that she and her siblings are eating, Catarina excels at most sports, and by all accounts, she is an outstanding runner, and even placed 2nd in a recent competition she participated in.

One wouldn’t believe that an art competition would impact a student much, however, after winning the bottle competition, Catarina has gained a huge amount of confidence, where before, she had struggled.

When asked why she wanted to be a doctor, a story poured out of her. Catarina admitted that she had been bullied and excluded by other students for some time; that she wanted to quit and just ‘be with her sheep.’ However, Catarina’s mother insisted that she remain in school and keep studying.  After participating and winning the recent Hain Celestial art competition, she says that she now has the confidence to be ‘more.’

Catarina dreams of being able to support her family and the people in her community who don’t have the finances to visit the hospital. When health workers came to her home and helped the people in her community with vaccinating each child, she was a girl inspired. She knew that she wanted to work in the health field to help others. She even says that when she becomes a doctor, she would help everyone, even those same students who mistreated her.

Manuela at her home with her parents. 

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