Leonardo was a new Progresa student in 2014 but he had already completed four semesters of Business Administration at the Mariano Gálvez University in Coban, Alta Verapaz. His family lives in a very rural area located 200 km or 4 hours from Coban. His father is a farmer who grows corn, beans and cardamom, while his mother tends the home and contributes financially by raising and selling small animals. As the oldest of 8 siblings, Leonardo also works in the fields and has contributed to the family finances although in the past years he has needed help from his father in order to go to school. That money must now go to a younger sister who wants to enter high school.
Leonardo is an excellent student. He graduated top of his class in both middle school and high school and achieved an average of 83 in his first 4 semesters at the university. At the student conference he emerged as a leader in his group, able to organize and express his ideas very well. Currently he is traveling back and forth to Coban in order to attend Saturday classes and work during the week. He feels that learning about business will provide a tool which will enable him to help not only his family but his community. In May he got a job in a small store two hours from his home but the travel time is so great we at Progresa are not sure he will be able to keep this up.
We think that in the long run he will have to board in Coban in order to get work experience in a larger town. He is very reluctant to leave home and also to borrow the additional money this would entail. We hope to find him a sponsor who could support him while he makes the move to Coban and searches for work. We should add that finding a job may not be easy since the standard Guatemalan work week includes Saturday mornings and in a country where there are very few jobs it is unfortunately common for employers to have little flexibility.