Forging a Path Out from Poverty

Forging a Path Out from Poverty

By most standards, Brenda seems like an ordinary 15-year-old girl. Clad in jeans and a t-shirt, she leaves the home she shares with her mother, stepfather, two brothers and stepbrother to make her way to school every day. The crucial difference between Brenda and a typical teen begins with a searing irony. While this smiling girl dreams of becoming an architect, she currently lives in a Guatemala City garbage dump. Her family’s home is a small dwelling improvised from scraps of roofing and old wood. And unlike a typical parent, Brenda’s stepfather does not encourage her education; instead, he urges her to quit school and find a job at the dump, where the average salary for an adult worker is $1.50 per day.

Although Brenda’s mother is proud of Brenda’s ambition, Brenda and her little brothers often go hungry, denied food by their stepfather and stepbrother as punishment for failing to help support the family. Even so, Brenda’s determination remains strong. While many of her classmates have already been forced by poverty to drop out of school and work at the dump, Brenda keeps one single goal in mind, to take her family out of the dump altogether. She knows that first step towards reaching it is to finish high school. With the help of International Samaritan, Brenda hopes to share a key lesson she’s already learned; anything is possible.

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