"I want girls to see that they learn skills and get ahead...."

Meet María García Hernández, one of our outstanding young leaders from the community of Iwiltic, Chiapas who became a GPA intern in 2018. Maria is 20 years old, and speaks Tzeltal and Spanish. She is the 4th child from a family of 9 children, and is the first in her family to finish high school.

“Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to study,” explains Mary. “When I was in elementary school, I dreamed about going to high school. But everyone told me it was impossible because it’s difficult, or costs too much, or because I’m a girl. But I was determined. When I finished junior high, I lost my motivation. I thought it would be better to find a job, and I began working in a restaurant, but it was a difficult experience. I realized I wanted something better. I returned to my community and began studying. Going to high school was very important for me, because I learned many things. It doesn’t matter if the school building needs repairs, or if you have to learn under a tree, the important thing is to learn. My teachers taught me a lot. Professor Juan Carlos always encouraged me, saying, ‘you are a smart student, you can do it, don’t get discouraged.’

The internship at GPA came as a surprise. The opportunity meant I could gain more skills and prove to myself that I am capable of accomplishing things. Since I began working there, I have learned how to facilitate a workshop, how to work with other people, with midwives, with young people. I’m learning to be an interpreter and now I’m learning about how organizations collaborate to be effective. I like working with young people a lot because I can identify with them and I want them to see that they can do this. I want girls to see that they can learn skills and get ahead, not just the guys. I understand their doubts because I had them myself.

Before I worked at GPA, I thought I wanted to study law but now I am interested in health; I’m not sure if I want to be a midwife because the responsibility frightens me a bit.”