Elvia, 13, is a shy but cheerful smiling 7th grader, who comes from a large family in the rural western highlands of Santa María Chiquimula. As the 6th child of twelve brothers and sisters, education is incredibly important to her and her parents Catarina and Miguel, because many of her siblings were unable to continue school, and her mother could not attend school at all.
As many girls in her community do, Elvia helps her family around the house, harvesting corn, cleaning and even helps her mother sell her colorful embroidered güipiles when she’s not at school.
Elvia is currently participating in both Qach’umilal at Paxan High School and Hope for Young Domestic Workers, learning a trade for when she completes high school. The program works to improve the standard of living for 500 girls and youth in rural communities of western Guatemala through access to education. She hopes to own her own business when she gets older and is currently learning how to develop a business plan.
After she completes the first three years of high school, Eliva hopes to continue her studies in the city of Totonicapan, the capital of the province. She is confident that this will occur, because her parents are committed to supporting her studies until she completes high school.
She is very close to her older sister, who is only a year older than her, and who also participates in the Hope for Young Domestic Workers program. Elvia walks with her sister and friends to and from school each day, laughing the whole way.
Elvia loves her time at school, especially studying Language, singing and Art class, and hopes to be able to continue school to help her family have an even more dignified life. Elvia’s favorite food is her mother’s roasted chicken, and, when she’s not being a dutiful daughter, student, and sister, Elvia loves to jump rope, read and play with her siblings on the family’s land.
Quote from Catarina Chacaj León, Elvia’s mother: “I was unable to attend school [and cannot read] so, even though my husband travels often working to earn money for our family, we both believe that making sure that Eliva and our other children attend school is very important.”