Lidia is 24 years old. She lives in Hacienda Viejo, an aldea of San José Poaquil, in the department of Chimaltenango. She is the youngest of 11 brothers and sisters, three of whom still live at home with their mother. Her father was a farmer who died in 1990 when Lidia was only 7 years old. Since that time the entire family has had to scramble just to put food on the table. In 2004 when Lidia completed middle school she dreamed of continuing her education but she realized that her mother would not be able to help her continue studying. Instead of entering high school she took any jobs she could find, working in a bakery, in the fields, making tortillas and even serving ice cream cones. Most of her earnings went toward supporting the family but she saved a little and in 2006 she began a weekend high school program in departmental capital of Chimaltenango studying to be an “Office Secretary”.
For two years after high school she worked at a variety of temporary and part time jobs until 2010 when she was hired by a foundation to work as a health promoter and doctor’s assistant. Once again as soon as she was able to support her family’s basic needs she began to investigate the possibility of continuing her education. This time she found a weekend nursing program at a private university in Solola.
The trip from her aldea to Solola is arduous and relatively expensive, she must leave at 4:30 am to make a 7:00am class. She then returns home at 8:30 pm after a full day of classes. Twice a month she spends the night in Solola and has courses on Sunday as well. This makes the trip a little easier but costs her more and cuts into her study time.
Lidia has experienced some health problems and so has taken two years to complete her first year of nursing. During this time she has worked as a health promoter for an NGO and thus been able to contribute to her educational expenses although it has always been necessary for her to borrow part of the money. Sadly her contract with the foundation has expired and they will no longer be working in her aldea so she plans to supplement her income by cooking and selling “snacks.”