Being a single mother is hard anywhere in the world. Being a single mother in Guatemala with four children and no extended family to help can be a great challenge. But for Maria del Carmen, these circumstances have only motivated her to fight harder for a better future for her family.
Maria is very industrious in finding ways to provide for her family. She grows corn, beans, and vegetables in her yard. She also raises chickens and sells eggs and meat to her neighbors. People come to her when they need food made for special events, like a family get-together or quinceañera. And, she washes and irons clothes and does odd jobs for people to be able to get by. All of this work happens in the morning. In the afternoon, Maria dedicates all her time to helping her children with homework.
Furthering her studies
In addition to that, Maria received a scholarship two years ago from a nearby private hospital to study nursing. She has been steadily working toward her degree ever since. “I see that employers look for people who are well prepared, mentally and academically,” she says. “I want to set an example for my kids, that it is possible to move forward and improve your life.”
Maria del Carmen has been an exemplary student. Of the 60-some people who received a scholarship, she is one of ten to complete the program. One step remains, an internship of 550 hours. She’s hoping to start in March, since the first two months of the year are very busy for her children’s school activities and meetings.
Finding a way
As an intern, Maria will have to work from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., along with some 24-hour shifts. She is not yet sure how she’ll handle this schedule with young children at home. Given her success thus far, it seems very likely Maria del Carmen will find a way. “You can always keep fighting for what you want,” she says. “Sometimes we get selfish and say that we can’t. That’s happened to me before. But you can keep fighting, you have to in order to make a good life for your children.”
Maria has plans beyond improving her own family’s situation with her career, setting a strong example for how to be an agent of change in her community. Her dream is to help people who don’t always have money to treat their health problems. “I want to work in a hospital or clinic to develop as a professional,” she says, “and then in my free time, I want to help people in my community with their ailments.”