Mirna Elizabeth Alvarado Perez

Mirna is originally from Buena Vista. Her father is a farmer, and her mother is a homemaker and works in a local health center. Her father only completed school through 4th grade. When he was 48 years old, he decided to return to school to complete 5th and 6th grade. He can now read and write, and participates in the community. Her mother was not allowed to attend school because her family believed women do not have the right to study.
Mirna wants to be a pre-kindergarten teacher so that she will be able to serve her community.

In the Voces y Manos program, I learned a lot about positive leadership for my community. I hope to help my community with a project that benefits them and allows them to have a better future.

“Mirna is a really incredible and industrious student. She was adamant about doing the community project in her tight-knit community of Buena Vista, even though it was much further away. She really cared about doing something to improve the health situation where she lived.”

Erlin Nery Tecu

Erlin’s parents are originally from Alta Verapaz, north of Rabinal. They are Achi, but also speak Q’eqchí and Spanish. When Erlin was 6, his father abandoned the family. He now lives with his mom, three brothers and sister in Rabinal. He wants to become a teacher in a bilingual Achi-Spanish elementary school.

Many people justify the problem of unequal social classes on their problems-illiteracy, unemployment and other issues- so they give up and continue in the same situation. It is time for my community to have a different vision and reach their goals with consistency and strength. Success is for those who struggle and fight to obtain it.
I have decided to study through any difficulties. I will struggle to achieve my goals, my dreams to become a professional, to be able to support my siblings so that they can have a better future.

“It was a privilege to work with Erlin this summer. Erlin is extremely committed to making his community a better place. This summer, I witnessed Erlin overcome his shyness and truly emerge as a young community leader. I am excited to see how he will grow as he continues with his schooling.”

Wily Yonathan Duanas Gonzales

Wily lives with his grandparents in Xencama, Rabinal. His grandmother is a tortilla maker and his grandfather is a farmer and mason. He is proud to be part of the Achi community. He wants to be a teacher and to also learn about car mechanics. He wants to become a good leader and provide support to his family and community.

Many people say negative things about indigenous people, that we don’t know anything. In order to fight against those words, we the indigenous people, including myself, must move forward with our studies. I want to put leadership into practice in my community to do good work.

“Wily’s humor not only made the group meetings quite pleasant, but he was respectful enough to not become disruptive when work had to be done. His approach to communicating with community members during the day of field work for his research impressed me because he was able to ask questions and making the individuals feel comfortable in giving an open response.”

Lourdes Alicia Roman Chapaz

Lourdes lives with her parents in San Rafael. Her father works in agriculture, and her mother is a seamstress and homemaker. Her parents were not able to study because their parents were poor, but Lourdes is grateful to be in school. She wants to become a teacher, and ultimately receive the Guatemalan equivalent of a Master’s Degree. She is also considering becoming a professional nurse. 
Lourdes wants to help unify her community. From Voces y Manos’ leadership program, she learned practical skills in public health and community-based research. The health fair left her with many ideas, suggestions, and knowledge about the community organizations that work to improve health in Rabinal.

I am proud of my traditional clothing and my language because they came from the roots of my Mayan ancestors. We should value these things and not lose them because they are our culture here in Rabinal.

“From the first day I met Lourdes, I knew her strength was talking in front of an audience. I was surprising to find out that she was actually shy, but the day that she presented her research in a room with adults, she didn’t fail me. Lourdes really impressed me and made me proud.”

Reyna Cristina Morales Raxcaco

Reyna’s parents are from the town of Corralabaj in southern Guatemala. Her mother is a homemaker and her father works in agriculture. Her parents wanted to go to school, but their families were too poor. Her grandparents did not have enough money to give educational opportunities to their children or give them enough food. She hopes to become a professional nurse.

In the future I want to support my community and become one of its leaders. I was able to move farther with my goals than my parents did because they value me so much. Voces y Manos has taught us to be a good leader in our community and where we study.

“I had the pleasure of working with Reyna throughout the course of the program. She is an intelligent young woman who carries herself very well. I watched her assume leadership during the community research project and cannot wait to see her develop her skills further.”

Yessica Irania Ortiz Amperez

Yessica’s parents and grandparents are from Rabinal. Her father works in agriculture and her mother is a homemaker and seamstress. While her parents could not go to school, they worked hard so that their family would have a better life.
Yessica is proud of her Achí culture and language. Her dream is to study to become a professional so that she can help unify her community.

Education is the most important aspect of our lives and is the only inheritance our parents could give us. I learned from Voces y Manos how to become a good leader and move a group of people forward. I am going to put what I learned into practice to achieve unity in my community.

“Yessica is one of the most enthusiastic young people I have ever worked with. The youngest member of our group, Yessica was one of our most outgoing students. She has a great love for her community, which she demonstrated through tireless work interviewing over 15 community members, and developing an innovative project idea for creating a community garden.”

Gustavo Adolfo Perez Gonzales

Gustavo lives with his family in Rabinal. His parents are originally from the community of Pamaliche. He feels proud of his Indigenous Culture. His dream is to be able to go to school, to get a professional job and help his parents because of all they have done for him.

I am proud to be able to study and change the stereotypes that exist in my community. I will be a positive leader to be able to improve my community. I want to work on sustainable development projects that help the well-being of people.

“It was wonderful working with Gustavo this summer and watching his leadership skills develop. He impressed me with this thoughfulness, consideration, and work ethic. He took his role as a community researcher seriously and produced a great presentation at the end. I am looking forward to watching him grow.”

Yeimy Yulissa Alvarado Quintanilla

Yeimy lives in Rabinal with her family. Her dad works as a farmer and her mom is a housewife. Despite the fact that her parents were not given the opportunity to study, they did not lose the drive to continue forward. They fought to give Yeimy and her siblings a good education. She learned from them that you can overcome whatever obstacles arise if you fight for what you want.
Yeimy wants to graduate from school to work in a profession where she could be given an opportunity to work and move forward.

People say that we are indigenous and that we do not know anything. To fight against these stereotypes, we as indigenas should demonstrate that we can, in fact, contend with anything that they say.
Each of us needs to learn as young people to be leaders. We can be grand participative leaders that will help our country. Leadership is something that you can always put into practice where ever you find yourself. We can be important people- not objects that people take advantage of.

“Yeimi’s light heartedness and positive attitude made her a joy to work with this summer. Through developing her research project with Vilma she added focus to her endless curiosity. I look forward to seeing her continue to blossom as she picks her path of academic pursuit.”

Vilma Lorana Xitumul Morente

Vilma’s mother grew up in Rabinal and her father is from Chiticoy. The whole family now lives in Rabinal where her mother is a housewife and her father is a farmer. The family has faced many challenges, such as lack of food, clean water and education.

Vilma wants to continue to study to become a professional nurse.

My identity is my culture and my self-confidence. I am very proud of my culture because it remembers our ancestors. For example, the Mayan ceremonies, the Corpus Christi are traditions that enchant me when we celebrate them.
I would like to become a professional nurse to help people and to support my community. When there comes an illness, I will do everything possible to cure it.

“Vilma’s dedication to her studies and commitment to her academic goals were very impressive throughout the program. In collaborating with Yeimi and researching recycling in Guachipilin, she gained confidence in her leadership abilities that will surely aid in the continuation of her studies. I’m excited to see her future work in the community.”