Meet Brenda. She has suffered from economic and emotional opposition like many young children, but has risen above them.
Nineteen-year-old Brenda lives in zone seven near the garbage dump. She is featured in a new video on our website. Brenda has a steady job in the urban area of Guatemala City, where she works as a Management Secretary in a company that opened its doors and gave her an opportunity. Her childhood and teenage years were very difficult due to the absence of her father, economic scarcity, and abuse from her stepfather and stepbrother.
Brenda doesn’t remember her father. He left shortly after she was born, leaving her, her sisters and her mother, Doña Francisca Chaj, to their fate without any financial support. Since Doña Francisca had to work, Brenda spent time in the care of her maternal grandmother with whom she lived for most of her childhood. Three years ago, Doña Francisca remarried a man named Don José Carlos with whom she also has a son near Brenda’s age.
Brenda didn’t want to live with them because she was very close to her grandmother, but eventually had to give up that because she had no alternative. Life did not go very well after that for Brenda or her sisters because her stepfather despised the girls. Sometimes, he would bring food to the house, but he refused to share it with them. Brenda usually took the little girls to play outside with her to distract them so that they wouldn’t ask him for food.
The stepfather is a tailor, but he is also an alcoholic, and sometimes Doña Francisca suffered verbal and physical aggression when he drank too much. Often Brenda and her sisters wanted to watch TV, but he would not let them watch, and he reacted with anger and physically assaulted them. Brenda’s brother, who is almost the same age as her, also entered the “Fundación Buen Samaritano” program but he did not graduate. Brenda says, “This made the situation worse because he felt envy. I was moving forward in the program and he stayed behind.” She often heard phrases like, “You are not going to make it,” or, “If you make it, you have to give me something back for all the things I have done for you.” He said those things because he sometimes provided for the family.
When Brenda began the “Fundación Buen Samaritano” program, she excelled with enthusiasm and a desire to overcome her situation.
She says that her motivation has always been her mother. “My dream is that one day, I can give her a decent house,” she says. While the comments she sometimes hears are discouraging, she tries not to pay attention and manages to succeed because of her aspirations for a brighter future. She began elementary school in 2003 at the Education Center Francisco Coll, and in 2009, began middle and high school at “Programa Paso a Paso,”– all with the financial support of International Samaritan.
In 2014, Brenda graduated and received the title of Bilingual Secretary. She is currently studying English at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala CALUSAC. She also works as the Assistant Manager in a travel agency. Her salary supports her mother and sisters, and she is saving to begin university studies in Industrial Psychology.
The program Director, Licenciada Angelica Cancinos, tells us about the changes that she saw in Brenda during the course of the program. “Before the program, Brenda was shy, a bit unmotivated, and had no personal care. When she started the 9th grade, she began to get involved in the office as an administrative assistant. She became more communicative, responsible, and took better care of herself. She started to participate in activities with other young people, and this was very positive because she became more responsible, and she represents the program at various events.”
Brenda, a “Warrior Angel”, now lives as an example for other children.
When I asked Angelica how she sees Brenda today, she says, “To me, all the boys and girls are Warrior Angels, and she’s one of them. She is an example for those who come after her. I see a girl who can achieve her objectives despite the economic and emotional challenges and unhealthy living conditions. You just need opportunities. I’m sure now that she believes and has faith in herself, she has the world waiting with open arms.”
Brenda tells us, “Fundación Buen Samaritano totally changed my lifestyle, and motivated me to set goals and accomplish them; and it opened doors I wasn’t expecting to be opened. I had the opportunity to travel by plane, which I wouldn’t have were it not for the help of the program. I’m grateful for this program, and now I can say that I have a purpose in my life.”
“If I had given up, my future would have been different.” She continued, “Perhaps I would have been working in the garbage dump, recycling and aluminum, earning 75% less than I do today. Today I can provide for my family. I recognize that I have value and I can be better every day. Thanks for the opportunity from Fundación Buen Samaritano. This is my story, and I will continue forward!”