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"I Gained So Much Knowledge that I Can Now Share with my Community"

At 26, Andrés Guacash Vazques is both a community health promoter working in the indigenous community of Zitin, Chiapas (Mexico), and a recent graduate of GPA’s High School Leadership Program in Guaquitepec, a program he participated in for two years. Andres, who is the only person in his family to study, tells us about the challenges he faced starting primary school as an adult, what he has gained, and his goals for the future.

“I didn’t begin studying as a boy, I started when I was an adult. It has been a challenge to attend classes and graduate both because of the costs and to a certain degree, emotionally. Getting there was difficult because it entailed money we didn’t have. But once I got there I really liked it because I gained so much knowledge that I can now share with my family and my community. One of my goals was to really learn so that these sacrifices, and not working with my family all this time would not be in vain. I wanted this investment to serve me in the future, for my family, for my community. And the truth is, it has borne fruit.

“Emotionally it was a challenge because people in my community and people my age would tell me that I should get married and that I was wasting my time by studying. Of course, later on I will establish a family, but after I’m better prepared for that.

“Our workshops covered the topics of gender, sexuality, and more, and I obtained a lot of information that I can share with young people, because we don’t have a lot of information about this in many communities. We have unintended pregnancies, diseases, etc. I think it’s very important to learn about this so that we can then share this information with other teenagers and our families.

“I made the decision to go to school as an adult because I want to study medicine in a university. I want to support my community and I also see the great need for it in the clinics in San Cristóbal. You get charged a lot of money but you get poor service. It’s even harder for older folks who can’t communicate in Spanish. They are pretty much forgotten. So the need is there.

“I’d like to thank GPA for this opportunity because this knowledge opens doors to additional learning. I hope you continue to offer these courses because as the original people here, we are the ones who need more support due to the poverty we suffer. In the communities it can be difficult to study, but if you come, you support us.”

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