Her parents, both of whom cannot read or write, did all that they could to provide for their family. The small plot of farmland they owned was deemed useless since the crops would be lost to landslides every year. Ines’ father was forced to travel long distances to work on other farms while Ines and her mother found domestic work in homes in the surrounding communities.
World Renew partner ADIP (Associacion para el Desarrollo Integral Polochic) began work in Ines’ community in 2006, focusing on improving agricultural techniques, preventative health and literacy.
Through ADIP, Ines’ father learned new agricultural techniques, allowing him to cultivate his plot of farmland once again. The family began to sell the produce at local markets for additional income.
Ines decided, with her father’s support, to enroll in the local middle school program and graduated from ninth grade in 2014.
The first member of her family to read and write, Ines beamed with pride:
“My dream is to become a professional teacher or a social professor.” ~Ines
“My dream came true; I cannot find the words to thank the people who work in ADIP and the support they gave me and my family imparting us trainings, enhancing my family’s skills and the opportunity I had working with them for the development of our community. I am so happy I got my middle school degree,” she says.
Through the agricultural skills they acquired, Ines’ family improved their livelihood, enabling her to study rather than work to bring in additional income.
This is both the challenge and the opportunity when it comes to improving literacy, says Sadoc Aguilar, Program Consultant at World Renew.
“Literacy is challenging because adults have many other priorities for their money and time,” Sadoc shares. "The opportunity lies, however, in using life-changing community development initiatives, such as agriculture, as a springboard to further learning."
Literacy is not improved upon in a vacuum.
UNESCO has themed the 2015 International Literacy Day “Literacy and Sustainable Societies” to highlight that literacy is not improved upon in a vacuum. By building practical community skillsets in areas such as agriculture and health, we are laying a foundation where the promotion of literacy will be fruitful.
With her new-found skills, Ines is indeed building a brighter future. She moved to Guatemala City for a time seeking better job opportunities, but after saving some money, she has now returned to her community with the goal of studying high school and then continuing on to university.
“My dream is to become a professional teacher or a social professor,” says Ines.
“Through these programs, we are working to build up leaders within the community,” says Sadoc. "Leaders who will carry on this work. We look forward to see where Ines leads her community, and her country, in the years to come."