Anastacia’s drive for an education has been up hill all the way. She started working at nine years old. She is now 36.
She is bright and forthright. Anastacia speaks three different Mayan languages (Quiche, Tzutujil and Katchiquel); also she knows perfect Spanish and enough English too. She can call a spade in all the languages.
“As a little girl, my parents sent me to work. For many years I carried a baby on my back for 10 hours a day to earn a little money. I had to have faith by myself to open a real world for me,” she says.
Social Work is a major university degree. The top qualification requires the equivalent of a master’s, and that would mean another three years of study. But now Anastasia will be able to seek work.
Guatemalan university programs seem unlike any known to Canadians. Major research reports are required but with a Quatemala twist. The university assigns projects that require students to be fundraisers.
In the final semester, the student either produces or doesn’t graduate. Anasatasia’s university wanted her to raise and build a school classroom for a local village. It would cost $4000, a sum her family could not earn in two years of hard labour.
Anastacia managed to get the assignment changed and to find a sponsor for different assignment.
Her minor project was to equip a community kitchen. The cost totalled $453 CAD that Paso Por Paso/ Scholarships managed to cover.
“It was either that or lose our investment,” Roger Pretty says. ” We don’t always understand the Guatemalan approach. And we sometimes suspect deliberate road blocks put in the way of indigenous students. We hope that is not the case.”