by Tamalyn Gutierrez, Country Director
Last night, I invited Carlos and Hector Robles to present at my Rotary club. Carlos is a film maker about to graduate with a degree in film production. He showed two movies — one reality show he is making for the Internet and one movie that is about HIV in Guatemala, basically a mini soap opera that depicts reality and educates communities about how to respond to this often taboo subject.
Hector, Carlos’s brother, just turned 24 and is the secretary of COCODE (the municipal community development committee that helps direct funding priorities). They both spoke eloquently and carried themselves well. And they both care greatly about their footprint on Guatemala — they believe they can make it better and they will.
Today, I ran into another one of those success stories — Mynor, the young man who touched us when he gave his valedictorian banner to the Common Hope Board of Directors at a ceremony here in Antigua. Mynor has held a stable job at a pharmacy since graduation and has a beautiful wife and two young children. His kids go to school with my son, Samuel. Today my kid was a firefighter in the school play, and Mynor’s kids were a rock and roll star and a tree. We were both proud.
I looked around the auditorium and it was filled with affiliated parents, former students and current students there to see their cousins or siblings. Diego was there — he is studying to be a mechanic and has two years to go. His little sister was an elf. I asked him how school was going and he said it had been rocky, but it was so much better this year. I asked him if I will seem him at the graduation celebration in two years and he said, “Si, seño.” (Yes, Ma’am).
I moved on through the crowd and saw Samuel’s former nanny, Nancy. She took care of newborn Samuel while also taking care of her six month old, Jocelyn, and with Common Hope’s encouragement, she stayed in school a little longer after having the baby than she had planned. The outcome of Nancy’s story was not what I would have hoped, but she stayed in a few more years before dropping out. As I watched Jocelyn on stage, I realized that while Nancy didn’t quite make it, she is going to fight hard to make sure Jocelyn does.
Sometimes profound change comes in a couple of years, like with Jonathan and the other Step by Step members, and sometimes it comes in the children of the ones who we got as far as they could. Now they will get their kids farther than they went, and it will keep going forward.
Tamalyn Gutierrez is the Country Director at Common Hope. She has lived in Guatemala since age 11, besides her years at Wesleyan College, where she earned a B.A. in international relations.