Sandra Gabriela Lopéz (Gaby)


Gaby's family was displaced to Mexico during the years of violence, after some close relatives suffered torture and death at the hands of the militares.  After the peace accords they were able to be repatriated to Momostenango with several other families through the aid of a Canadian NGO.  There, on a small plot of land they are dedicated to cultivating native plants, especially those with medicinal properties, using organic and sustainable practices.  As a result of the displacement, Gaby grew up speaking Spanish and is one of the few Progresa students who does not speak her native Mayan language.

Gaby's father is a relatively well educated and well spoken man, but only earns only a small salary.  Her mother makes baskets to earn a few extra Quetzales, and Gaby herself finds time to make some costume jewelry to sell.  Because their small, steep plot of land is not suitable for growing corn or beans and only produces a few guisquiles (chayote), they must buy all their food.  As a result their monthly income is barely enough to cover their living expenses, with nothing left over for Gaby's education.  After graduating from high school with a certificate in bookkeeping and computers, she had to delay university education for 3 years due to lack of funds.  She tried several scholarship programs, was was rejected, in her words, for lack of political connections or for being a woman.  Fortunately, neither of these are impediments for Progresa.

Gaby has done community service projects working with students and members of her community, converting plots of unused or underused land into demonstration plots of organic and sustainable agriculture and agro-forestry.  They are quite impressive.  Her enthusiasm and curiosity about all things biological and the natural world in general are infectious.  Her passion for healing and sustaining the environment in her local area and for the earth in general is infectious and will no doubt make the world a better place as she puts her education into practice.