Efraín comes from a very remote community in an area known as the Ixcán, where many refugees from the years of violence and civil war were allowed to resettle. He was raised by and lives with his mother and does not know his father. He speaks Mam as a native language and Spanish. Efraín lives without electricity and has to walk a couple of hours just to encounter a pickup ride to a place to get a bus to Cobán, where he studies on weekends. This means leaving home shortly after midnight, taking a full day of classes starting at 7 AM, spending the night in Cobán, and using most of the next day returning.
His family's poverty is complicated even more by the presence of a brother with severe mental illness, probably schizophrenia, which makes him a physical danger to others in the household and severely limits Efraín's ability to be away from home or to study at home as the brother has repeatedly destroyed his homework. He is completely uncooperative with what treatment options exist in this remote area. PROGRESA is helping to provide legal advice to the family about this situation.
Efraín is pursuing a degree in secondary education. Teachers are in short supply in rural Guatemala, especially those who speak one of the Mayan languages. Ephraín's passion is mathematics and physics, an area for which there is always much need for good teachers, even in the US. He is a gifted student, with some of the highest grades we have seen. He will be a great gift to his community.
Efraín is quiet and soft spoken, but a gifted musician and well liked by his peers. He plays the guitar beautifully, far more than the folk song strum, and also has a fine voice. This provides a lot of social leadership when the community of PROGRESA students get together for the annual conference or for the ESL experience.